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Widening gap between TikTok users and lawmakers on potential bans

NEW YORK — On the one hand, dozens of lawmakers at the Capitol are issuing dire warnings of security breaches and possible surveillance by China.

On the other hand, the nearly 150 million TikTok users in the US want to keep making short and fun videos that offer things like makeup tutorials and cooking lessons.

This disconnect illustrates the uphill battle facing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle trying to convince the public that China can use TikTok as a weapon against the American people. However, many users on the platform are more concerned about the possibility of the government taking away their favorite apps.

tick tock CEO Shou Zi Chew said during a nearly six-hour congressional hearing on Thursday that the platform has never handed over user data to the Chinese government and would not do so even if asked.

Nonetheless, lawmakers, FBI and other agency officials continue to warn that Chinese law is forcing Chinese companies to do the same. tick tockByteDance, the parent company of ByteDance, wants to fork the data to the government for any purpose deemed to involve national security. There are also concerns that the Chinese government will try to spread pro-Chinese narratives and misinformation through the platform.

The Republican lawmaker said, “With all the teenagers out there, just because we’re old and out of touch, they don’t know what we’re talking about, and they’re trying to steal our favorite apps.” I want to say to TikTok influencers who are thinking,” said Dan Crenshaw during the hearing. “You may not care that your data is accessed now, but one day it will.”

Many TikTok users reacted to the hearings by lashing out at Chu and posting videos critical of lawmakers who frequently declined to speak to him. Some have pointed to a possible TikTok ban because it is reportedly threatening to be the “biggest scam.” Others blame another tech rival, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for the surge in scrutiny against the platform.

But as lawmakers seek to curb TikTok, few expressed concern about possible Chinese surveillance or security breaches.

Rep. Lo Khanna, a California Democrat in the heart of Silicon Valley, is mindful of the value that platforms like TikTok provide to young people as an outlet for creative expression and build community. said. “But there’s absolutely no reason why American tech companies can’t do it,” said Khanna, the top Democrat on the House Military Services Cyber ​​Subcommittee. “America has some of the most innovative technology companies in the world.”

He wanted the platform to remain accessible to millions of users while “preventing it from becoming the target of Chinese propaganda or infringing on people’s privacy.” It added that Congress should go ahead with a proposal to force it to sell to

A Pew Research Center study found that two-thirds of Americans ages 13 to 17 use TikTok, and 16% of teens say they use it almost all the time. Lindsay Gorman, a former technology adviser to the Biden administration and now working as a senior fellow in new technology at the German Marshall Fund, said TikTok’s large user base meant the Biden administration would pursue all options other than ban it first. said it is likely to. This includes options for the app’s Chinese owner to sell. This is reportedly what the Biden administration is demanding of TikTok if it wants to avoid a nationwide ban.

tick tock itself has sought to capitalize on its popularity. On Wednesday, it sent dozens of influencers to Congress to lobby against the ban. It also ramped up its broader public relations campaign, pasting ads across Washington touting its promise to protect user data and privacy and create a safe platform for young users.

Some popular TikTokers who have spoken out against the ban are concerned and angry about how it will affect their personal lives. Many earn money from their videos, signing brands to his partnerships to sell products to their viewers. They will also lose the social he capital that comes from having a lot of followers on trend-setting apps.

Stand-up comedian Demetrius Fields says he has spent a long time building his career and followership on the platform, posting comedy sketches on TikTok and gaining 2.8 million followers.he has 1 active trade Fast Fashion Retailer Fashion Novawhich allows him to earn income along with the videos he posts on TikTok.

He said that if the app was taken away, it would be difficult for him to build an audience on another platform because of the competition for user attention.

“The economic impact for me would be pretty horrendous,” Fields said. “I’ll probably have to go back to my desk job.”

Sarah Pickitt, an 18-year-old Pennsylvania State University student, used to use TikTok a lot, but stopped using it after learning how much time she spent scrolling through videos on the app. Said it happened. She still uses it, but she says she uses it primarily to post her own content, which she can do on other platforms as well. She said she doesn’t mind if TikTok gets banned, but her friends do.

“They like excessive scrolling,” says Pikhit.


Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Widening gap between TikTok users and lawmakers on potential bans

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