Congress’ Hypocrisy on Display in TikTok Hearing


Who hasn’t been to TikTok at least once since its release? TikTok has an estimated 1.5 billion users. It is an app where people can upload videos of any sort ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes. 

While most people use the app to post fun activities or helpful knowledge, some people in the government are concerned it may be used for an entirely different purpose. On Thursday, March 30th, TikTok CEO Shou Chew, testified before congress. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has congress concerned over the possibility of ByteDance having a connection to the Chinese government. Congress has the idea that many Americans’ data is at risk and may land in the hands of the Chinese government, which have led to calls to have an American company purchase it

To continue maintaining the app, Shou Chew created a project called “Project Texas”. This project which is to be run by Oracle and TikTok will have a team that goes through the process of security checks and balances and the management of user data to ensure that the Chinese government will stay far from user data. The hearing demonstrated the United States lawmaker’s wariness regarding the app and the fact that it is owned by China. 

Congress has been striving for a ban in the United States or a sale for the app from Chinese owners. Putting an end to TikTok is not rational, as it has highly influenced people’s lives. Other social media companies like Meta are not being threatened with a ban, mainly because they are American owned. However, what the congressmen and women accused ByteDance of, Meta has been doing through their platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. 

TikTok is not only used for dancing and lip syncing, it allows people to start businesses, share their daily life, create stories, demonstrate forms of art, spread news, and much more. It has become a part of daily life for everybody who has been using the app. This app has become a place where people can unite and where they can express themselves freely. Taking it out of the lives of over 150 million Americans who have been using it for both business and pleasure will leave a void.

One of the accusations towards TikTok is the infliction of “emotional distress” on young users, but it is also not the only app with an endless feed of videos which may “cause emotional distress”. Other apps – Twitter and Meta  – also have the same features or effects. This exemplifies the prejudice against the Chinese company, making it seem xenophobic as they don’t denounce the U.S. apps also.  

Putting the blame on other countries’ apps, but not focusing on the way U.S. apps also gather information, is hypocritical. Rep. Buddy Carter asked about TikTok’s camera and its facial recognition. Chew shut it down by stating “The only face data that you get that we collect is when you use the filters to have, say, sunglasses on your face,” he said, “we need to know where your eyes are.”  After being cut off mid answer, Carter responded, “Why do you need to know what the eyes are if you’re not seeing if they’re dilated?” 

The congressmen were also disrespectful and wouldn’t give Chew a chance to respond to their questions. Their questions, just like Carter’s were idiotic as they only required basic knowledge of the internet and the usage of social media apps. This led to many congressmen like the U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, to be ridiculed for their half-witted questions “So if I have a TikTok app on my phone and my phone is on my home WiFi network,” Hudson asked, “does TikTok access that network?” This hearing has demonstrated the lack of respect towards Asians, especially Chew who stood his ground with patience as he was cut off and disrespected with passive aggressive comments. They are also blind towards the way technology, apps, and devices work.

As a person who uses the TikTok app, I can vouch for the app when I say that it is everything that Chew said it was. TikTok has given me the  chance to know many things about many things like cooking, places, careers, and much more. 

Bans don’t work. Whether we’re talking about alcohol (Prohibition), abortions, or illegal drugs, people will always find a way to get what they want. Spying on users is unacceptable, regardless of who owns the company or where it is located. The most important matter is the protection of people’s privacy and data when on any internet based company, which is not being resolved, but needs to be.