U.S. Lawmakers Shamefully Attempt To “Swipe” TikTok Away


Joseph Abrahantes

Throughout the hearing, TikTok CEO Shou Chew explained the ins and outs of the application’s functions to the members of Congress.

As we move further into 2023, TikTok’s troubles continue to mount, leaving the future of the application in jeopardy. TikTok has emerged as one of the most popular apps in recent years, with its short-form videos capturing the attention of millions across the globe. US officials’ suggested ban on TikTok may not be the most prudent course of action, as a more deliberate approach is necessary to effectively address user interests and national security concerns.

This latest move to ban TikTok has left millions of users outraged and alarmed. With concerns about data privacy at the forefront, the proposed “swipe” has sparked a fierce debate about the role of government in regulating social media platforms. It has become evident to the public that the assault on TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, was an effort to target the company for their connections to China. 

“The constant fight to ban TikTok is not only based on data privacy and national security; it reflects the broader political tensions between the US and China. While the US’s concerns can be reasonable at times, it seems as if the government is trying to grab at any loose ends and ‘expose’ China,” freshman Jasmin Abu said.

I can see why the U.S. government is worried about privacy and security concerns. However, I think it is important to have a civil and courteous discussion about these issues. Hopefully, lawmakers can find a way to address these concerns without putting the future of the app in danger,

— freshman Lauren Amador

Members of Congress claimed that Chinese law was exceptionally broad, mandating all organizations and citizens to assist with “state intelligence work.” Despite the large crowd of potentially harmful applications, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, where users are susceptible to getting information stolen, TikTok has been continuously persecuted. The public has theorized that the constant hounding of the application is solely due to its Chinese roots.

“TikTok’s popularity has made it a target for examination, but there are many other apps with similar privacy concerns that are not receiving the same level of attention. Facebook had their hearing a while back, but besides that all other allegations have been swept under the rug,” freshman Lua Lara said.

Chief Executive Officer Shou Chew was quick to address these concerns during the congressional hearing, explaining that all data from TikTok is now stored “on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel” as part of “Project Texas.” The transfer of data from Chinese servers to American servers is expected to be completed by the end of 2023 to ensure safekeeping.

At various points throughout the hearing, Chew was met with bizarre, irrelevant questions that demonstrated how clueless lawmakers often are when it comes to technology. Representative Richard Hudson, in particular, perplexed Chew when he asked if TikTok could access home Wifi networks if the user is on the application. While the question may seem valid at first glance, the questioning was confusing and lacked relevance to the issue at hand.

Despite Chew’s composed and professional responses, he was constantly interrupted, blocked and disregarded by members of Congress. For instance, as Chew was answering one question, Congress members would jump in by asking yet another question and overlooking his answers. Many viewers voiced their opinions on the hearing, calling out the childish quips and ill-mannered behavior. This was a far cry from a serious and productive discussion of the important issues at hand.

“I was actually scrolling through TikTok when snippets of the hearing popped up. I was intrigued since I was not aware it was happening, but my expectations quickly plummeted when I started hearing more and more outrageous allegations. It started with irrelevant questions and swiftly escalated to borderline lack of understanding on Congress’ part,” freshman Genesis Javier said.

While it is understandable for lawmakers to have concerns about data privacy and national security, it is important to approach these issues in a respectful manner. Disrespecting the CEO and disregarding his responses during the hearing only undermines the possibility of a productive discussion. As for TikTok, only time will tell if the platform can weather this storm and continue to provide its millions of users with a home for creative expression and entertainment.