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Business News/ News / World/  What TikTok CEO was asked in his first appearance before US Congress? 10 points
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What TikTok CEO was asked in his first appearance before US Congress? 10 points

The testimony comes as lawmakers and the Biden administration are exploring how to force TitTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell its shares of the unit or block it in the US.

Shou Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. (Bloomberg)Premium
Shou Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. (Bloomberg)

TikTok is in a tougher spot amid growing support for its ban in the United States, despite having 150 million monthly users here who are expecting an ad revenue of $6.83 billion this year. The country had already halted the use of TikTok on government phones over national security concerns. 

Content creators also launched protests outside Congress on Thursday as CEO Shou Zi Chew made a high-profile appearance before a committee. The top executive was grilled on data security and user safety while he makes his own case for why the hugely popular video-sharing app shouldn't be banned. 

The six-hour grilling of TikTok’s CEO by lawmakers brought the platform’s 150 million US users no closer to an answer as to whether the app will be wiped from their devices.

A 10-point guide on TikTok CEO's first appearance before US Congress

1) Republican and Democratic lawmakers hurled questions on a host of topics, including TikTok’s content moderation practices, how the company plans to secure American data from Beijing, and its spying on journalists.

2) Chew spent most of the hearing attempting to push back assertions that TikTok, or its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, are tools of the Chinese government.

3) He failed to answer uncomfortable questions about human rights abuses committed by China against the Uyghurs, and seemed taken aback by a TikTok video displayed by one lawmaker that advocated for violence against the House committee holding the hearing.

4) TikTok CEO also reiterated the company’s plan to protect US user data by storing it on servers maintained and owned by the software giant Oracle. “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country."

5) “You expect us to believe that you are capable of maintaining the data security, privacy and security of 150 million Americans where you can’t even protect the people in this room," Republican Rep. Kat Cammack said after he played a TikTok video showing a shooting gun with a caption that included the House committee, with the exact date before it was formally announced.

6) The social media company said that the video has been removed on Thursday and banned the account that posted it.

7) Committee members also showed a host of TikTok videos that encouraged users to harm themselves and commit suicide. Many questioned why the platform’s Chinese counterpart, Douyin, does not carry the same potentially dangerous content as the American product.

8) Chew responded that it depends on the laws of the country where the app is operating. He said the company has about 40,000 moderators that track harmful content and an algorithm that flags material.

9) Republican representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, TikTok's chief was unable to "100 percent guarantee" that Beijing was not influencing parts of the app. The CEO replied that the company is committed to firewalling U.S. user data from "all unwanted foreign access" and would keep content "free from any manipulation from any government."

10) Another lawmaker from New Jersey said he wasn't convinced that TikTok's security plans would work. "I still believe that the Beijing communist government will still control and have the ability to influence what you do," he said, pushing back on what he said was TikTok's attempt to portray itself as "a benign company that's just performing a public service ... I don't buy it."

 

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 24 Mar 2023, 09:24 AM IST
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