TikTok CEO Hearing in US Congress: 5 Things You Need to Know

TikTok in full paradox

TikTok CEO Hearing in US Congress: 5 Things You Need to Know

TikTok in full paradox. The app has more than 150 million users in the United States, almost half of the country's population. And yet, the social network could well be banned across the Atlantic. Its director general, Shou Zi Chew, will be heard this Thursday by the American Congress. A commission will question him on two topics: the impact of the application on children and its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. Here are five things to know about this audition.

This is the main question. The app, owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, is suspected of giving access to US user data to Chinese power.

"Let me tell you unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent for China or any other country," the leader plans to say, according to his opening speech posted on the House of Representatives website. . "TikTok will remain a platform for free speech and will not be manipulated by any government," he insisted.

Many American elected officials, right and left, believe that the social network allows Beijing to access confidential user data. Some also fear that the application will serve as a Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party to manipulate public opinion.

To reassure his interlocutors, while Washington summoned ByteDance to sell the application, the CEO of TikTok intends to present the "Project Texas". The company has already spent around 1.5 billion dollars for the implementation of this project, which consists of hosting its data only in the United States, on servers of the Texas group Oracle.

"Earlier this month, we began deleting all US data stored on non-Oracle servers," Shou Zi Chew said. Through TikTok's ad-hoc subsidiary, USDS, "it's impossible for the Chinese government to access it or force (the company) to give it access." Oracle is also reviewing TikTok's source code and, soon, its content recommendation algorithms. "No other social network has ever offered such a level of transparency", will plead Thursday the leader.

Another string to his bow: the boss also mentions the "5 million businesses, mostly small and medium-sized, that use TikTok to communicate with consumers" and the 7,000 TikTok employees in the United States. So Shou Zi Chew presses this economic point: this Wednesday, he organized a press conference from the United States - where he has been for two weeks - in the company of entrepreneurs who have won customers through the social network.

"We don't believe that a ban that will hurt small entrepreneurs, take away a means of expression for 150 million Americans, and reduce competition in a hyper-concentrated market is the solution," he said. introductory statement.

To protest against the Chinese company, Silicon Valley and Washington have created an anti-China pressure group. At its head, Jacob Helberg, a former Google, who considers the application "the most powerful spy operation ever launched by China". On Wednesday evening, this group met over dinner. "Almost everyone at this dinner shared the belief that China poses one of the greatest political and geopolitical threats to American democracy," he said.

Xi wants to topple US global leadership. How we deal w TikTok is a bellwether. USG has choice a between Performative vs Substantive. Being Performative only works until you actually have to perform. https://t.co/Dgf143gD9q

The White House has banned officials of federal institutions from having the application on their smartphones, according to a law ratified in early January. The European Commission and the Canadian and British governments have taken similar decisions for the mobile phones of their civil servants. The destruction in February of a supposed Chinese spy balloon sparked renewed tensions with China.

The Biden administration has also decided to ban the export of semiconductors and advanced equipment to China, and would like to ban American funds from investing in Chinese companies working on quantum or artificial intelligence. military.