TikTok CEO Denies App Poses Security Risk or Harm to Teens During Capitol Hill Hearing

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During Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers grilled Shou Zi Chew on TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Saying that she supports banning the app for that reason alone. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of popular – and controversial – video-sharing app TikTok, denied during a hearing in Washington on Thursday that the social media platform poses a risk to national security or a significant risk of harm to teenage users, dispute heated accusations of both from lawmakers and witnesses from both sides of the political aisle. 

Citing potentially serious national security concerns, the Biden Administration had threatened to ban TikTok unless its Chinese owners immediately sold off their shares.  

The demand for TikTok owner ByteDance to divest itself of its Chinese ownership comes after a Senate hearing earlier this month where FBI director Christopher Wray declared that China is using the app to mine the phones of U.S. residents for sensitive information, as well as to spread misinformation and propaganda. 

During Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers grilled Chew on TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Saying that she supports banning the app for that reason alone. 

“We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values. TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance, and more manipulation. Your platform should be banned,” she said. “TikTok has repeatedly been caught in the lie that it does not answer to the CCP through ByteDance.” 

Regarding accusations that TikTok mines the data of its users and transmits it back to the CCP, Chew denied that this is the case, claiming that his company has full autonomy from their Chinese owners. 

“I have seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that data,” Chew claimed. “They have never asked us, we have not provided. I have seen no evidence of this happening.” 

Chew Also faced questioning regarding the alleged dangers that the app poses to its 150 million users in the United States, particularly to teenagers who have been harmed and even killed by some of the trends that frequent the platform, including videos that promote potentially dangerous physical challenges and even suicide. 

Among the victims of these challenges was 16-year-old Chase Nasca – whose tearful parents were at the hearing – who killed herself in 2022 after purportedly watching TikTok videos promoting suicide. 

“Mr. Chew, your company destroyed their lives,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), referencing the underage users of TikTok who have been hurt or even died after allegedly being exposed to the platform’s content. 

“We do take these issues very seriously and we do provide resources for anybody that types in anything suicide-related,” Chew said. 

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