TikTok is facing a deja vu moment, as it faces another volley of legal proceedings and a bill introduced to the senate giving them an ultimatum: Sell the Chinese social media company to a US buyer or face a ban from the country.
A congressional hearing with tiktok CEO, Shou Chew, is scheduled for 10am est.
The proceedings are reminiscent of an emergency executive order in 2020 under the Trump administration, levying broad sanctions against tik tok to pressure them into selling to the US buyer. Some of the sanctions threatened were the withdrawal of American advertisers through the app and possibly pulling the app from Apple and Google app stores.
Although the Biden administration rescinded the executive order, an investigation took its place, looking into technology connected in any way to foreign adversaries; while the CFIUS (Committee on Foreign investment in the United States) continues to work behind the scenes to broker a deal to get Tiktok sold off to a US buyer.
The concerns surrounding tiktok are national security risks. TikTok, a social media platform that is home to more than 100 million US citizen users, is owned by the parent company, ByteDance. ByteDance is a company that operates in China and is, therefore, subject to Chinese Communist Party rules, laws, initiatives, etc. The main fear held by US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is that US user data will be used to spy on the American people; and that misinformation and propaganda will be disseminated via the app.
Noted lower on the totem pole of priorities (but equally alarming) are concerns over specific content that promotes harmful challenges to US users (some alarm incidents of self-harm and accidental death were presented during the hearing); censorship of terms that indicate a possible bias or prejudice (during the congressional hearing, a congresswoman mentioned the censorship of the tag “black lives matter” and variations on the phrase); and the harm Tiktok may pose to young minds stateside, while it is reported that the app is largely used as an educational platform in China.