Two senior senators, Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton, called for US Intelligence officials to take a closer look at the Chinese-owned popular mobile video app, TikTok. With over 110 million downloads alone in the US, TikTok’s data collection practices raise concerns.
They also claimed: “TikTok reportedly censors materials deemed politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including content related to the recent Hong Kong protests, as well as references to Tiananmen Square, Tibetan and Taiwanese independence, and the treatment of the Uighurs. The platform is also a potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on US-based social media platforms.”
In September, Senator Marco Rubio also spoke out about the TikTok’s censorship policies on matters like Tiananmen Square or Tibetan independence. Rubio claims, “These Chinese-owned apps are increasingly being used to censor content and silence open discussion on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Government and Community Party.”
In response, TikTok officials published a blog post about the subject. They claimed that the US TikToks users’ data is stored in the US and all of their data centers are located outside of China, thus it is not a subject to Chinese law. They also claimed that they have never been asked to remove any content by the Chinese government and said “Our US moderation team, which is led out of California, reviews content for adherence to our US policies. We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government.”