The House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing on Thursday was an “abject disaster” for TikTok, and even appeared to result in lawmakers announcing their support for banning the China-owned app, according to one former Politico writer, and many other verified users on Twitter seem to agree.
“This hearing is an abject disaster for TikTok,” Punchbowl News reporter and veteran Poltiico writer Andrew Desiderio reacted, adding that “Several lawmakers are announcing — mid hearing — their support for a TikTok ban.”
Several lawmakers are announcing — mid-hearing — their support for a TikTok ban. https://t.co/UNW5nWvzxf
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) March 23, 2023
“[In my opinion] this is done. I don’t see any way TikTok isn’t banned at this point,” Founders Fund Vice President Mike Solana tweeted. “Bi-partisan certainty the CCP is spying on 150 million Americans. They’re furious. I have never seen them lock-step in a hearing like this.”
IMO this is done. I don't see any way TikTok isn't banned at this point. Bi-partisan certainty the CCP is spying on 150 million Americans. They're furious. I have never seen them lock-step in a hearing like this.
— Mike Solana (@micsolana) March 23, 2023
“The full-scale bipartisan unity is indeed striking. The rage in that room is virtually unlimited,” journalist Glenn Greenwald concurred.
“Part is generalized rage at Big Tech: many concerns of which are valid: addictive algorithms, data privacy, mental health harms especially for minors. But it’s all being channeled onto one platform, spiced by bipartisan unity on CCP. Seems likely something comes out of this,” he added.
Part is generalized rage at Big Tech: many concerns of which are valid: addictive algorithms, data privacy, mental health harms especially for minors. But it's all being channeled onto one platform, spiced by bipartisan unity on CCP. Seems likely something comes out of this.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 23, 2023
Several clips of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew admitting alarming information about TikTok began circulating on social media during the hearing.
“Then we all agree. Now ban it,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted in response to a video of Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) getting Chew to admit the Chinese Communist Party could have the capability to manipulate data and send it to the United States.
Then we all agree. Now ban it https://t.co/hP6Ie2Udrt
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 23, 2023
In another example, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) demanded that Chew answer whether “any ByteDance employees in China, including engineers, currently have access to U.S. user data,” to which the TikTok CEO responded by admitting that they do.
“After Project Texas is done, the answer is no. Today, there is still some data that we need to delete,” Chew said.
I just pressed TikTok’s CEO about whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has access to U.S. user data.
He ADMITTED China has access to U.S. data. This should serve as a wake up call and alarm every single American. pic.twitter.com/qmEVEkSrvT
— U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (@boblatta) March 23, 2023
“I haven’t had time to watch the entire hearing but from the clips I’ve seen, it’s been an utter disaster for the TikTok CEO,” Newsweek contributor Darvio Morrow said in response to a video clip of Rep. Latta grilling the TikTok CEO.
I haven’t had time to watch the entire hearing but from the clips I’ve seen, it’s been an utter disaster for the TikTok CEO https://t.co/BdQNDQyDy2
— Darvio Morrow (@DTheKingpin) March 23, 2023
“What a disaster. TikTok’s CEO is woefully unprepared for this,” Morrow said in a follow-up tweet, reacting to another clip from the hearing.
Another video showcased the TikTok CEO visibly struggling with his answer to Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) while she repeatedly asked him if the app’s parent company, ByteDance, can currently access U.S. user data.
US TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew admits that CCP controlled ByteDance can access American user data. pic.twitter.com/woPqYqHD9r
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) March 23, 2023
On four separate occasions, Chew also refused to admit that the Chinese Communist Party is currently persecuting the Uyghur population in the country.
TikTok CEO Shou Chew refuses FOUR TIMES to admit the Chinese Communist Party is persecuting the Uyghur population pic.twitter.com/tOUzELN13R
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 23, 2023
For many, the refusal to speak about China’s genocide of its Uyghur population is an indication that the individual is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party — like NBA star and billionaire partner of Communist China, LeBron James.
One video showed Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) telling Chew that she finds his claim that there is “no evidence that the Chinese government has access” to certain data “preposterous.”
TikTok CEO on Americans’ Data: “I have seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that data.”
REP. ESHOO: “I find that, actually, preposterous.”
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) March 23, 2023
Another video showed Chew admitting that TikTok tracks users’ individual keystrokes, and telling Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) that he will “get back” to her about whether the Chinese app keeps records of users’ credit card information and passwords.
During another revealing portion of the hearing, Chew actually stated, “I don’t think that ‘spying’ is the right way to describe” the alleged Chinese surveillance of Americans using TikTok.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.
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