Stefanik, Hawley Sound Alarm on National Guardsman’s ‘Extremely Concerning’ Participation in TikTok Ad

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House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) are sounding the alarm over the participation of a National Guardsman in a TikTok advertisement that appears as an endorsement from the U.S. military force of the Chinese-controlled platform.

A video published by TikTok this month featuring Air National Guard member Jon Lynch explaining the benefits the platform provides him and his messaging faced backlash from legislators who accused the social media giant of misleading the public.

“I use my TikTok channel to spread helpful and useful information to benefit military members and their families,” the clip begins.

Lynch later lauds the platform for allowing him “to reach the military community” and “give other military members and other families these experiences to appreciate this life that they’re in.”

In a letter to the National Guard Bureau (NGB) on Friday, the lawmakers highlighted how the ad — which features the Air Guardsman expressing support for TikTok — can be viewed as a “de facto” National Guard endorsement of the TikTok platform.

“The National Guard plays an integral role in carrying out the National Defense Strategy, which correctly identifies China as our most consequential strategic competitor,” they write. “Not only does TikTok play a leading role in manipulating American citizens’ perceptions of China generally, but influence operations like this could directly undermine the National Guard’s ability to mobilize in crisis or conflict.”

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“Additionally, TikTok’s data collection could pose threats to the operational security of National Guard operations,” they continue, noting that both TikTok and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “continue to actively undermine American interests.”

Expressing “extreme concern” over the matter, the two called on the NGB to “clarify its policies on official and unofficial use of TikTok to both Servicemembers and the American people” as they made several information requests, including whether the federal agency “provided guidance” to National Guard personnel about the use of TikTok on personal devices. 

In an exclusive statement to Breitbart News on Sunday, Stefanik described the popular video hosting platform as “Communist China’s latest attempt to infiltrate and undermine American institutions.” 

Addressing the recent ad, the congresswoman deemed “unacceptable” TikTok’s attempt to subvert United States establishments by “using the appearance of a de facto endorsement of a U.S. military organization.”

“There is a reason TikTok is banned on U.S. government devices, and make no mistake, this weapon of our foreign adversary is not endorsed by the American military,” she stated.

Stefanik, who serves as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, concluded by vowing to “continue working to ensure our warfighters are protected against the malicious exploitation by the Chinese Communist Party.”

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The matter comes as House members on both sides of the political aisle have become increasingly wary of TikTok, with calls growing for a categorical ban of the influential app.

TikTok, a widely used and addictive app that allows users to upload short self-created videos, is owned by the China-based ByteDance technology company.

Earlier this month, Australia said it would ban TikTok on government devices, joining a growing list of Western nations, including the U.S., Britain, Canada and New Zealand, cracking down on the Chinese-owned app due to national security fears.

In February, former Deputy National Security Adviser of the United States Matthew Pottinger warned during the first China Select Committee hearing that Chinese company-linked platforms such as TikTok give the CCP “the ability to manipulate our social discourse.”

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.


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