In the run-up to his widely anticipated battle with US lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has posted a message on the video sharing app appealing to its millions of users.
Chew posted the video message from Washington DC, Tuesday.
“Our CEO, Shou Chew, shares a special message on behalf of the entire TikTok team to thank our community of 150 million Americans ahead of his congressional hearing later this week,” the video’s description stated.
Chew is set to be grilled by US lawmakers during a congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on whether the Chinese-owned app is a national security concern and should be banned throughout the US.
Chew began the video boasting about the growing number of TikTik users in the US – clocked by the company this week at 150 million active users per month – up 50 million since 2020.
“That’s almost half of the US coming to TikTok…this includes 5 million business using TikTok to reach their customers, the majority of these are small and medium businesses,” Chew said.
After citing the numbers, Chew launched an appeal for support to those millions of TikTok users.
“Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok. Now this could take TikTok away from all 150 million of you,” he said.
“Let me know in the comments what you want your elected representatives to know about what you love about TikTok,” said Chew.
Our CEO, Shou Chew, shares a special message on behalf of the entire TikTok team to thank our community of 150 million Americans ahead of his congressional hearing later this week.♬ original sound - TikTok
Meantime, it's been a busy month for lawmakers who have been relentlessly pursuing a ban of the app.
House committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers told reporters Monday, she supports the TikTok ban, along with dozens of other lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Last week, US President Joe Biden ordered ByteDance to give up its 50% ownership in the app to an American company to keep it safe from US exile.
On March 8, the US Senate presented a bill for the RESTRICT Act. If passed the bill would allow the Commerce Secretary to ban TikTok and other foreign-based technologies perceived as a threat to national security.
The federal government, which banned TikTok from all government devices in December, recently gave federal employees a 30-day deadline – due to expire next week – to delete the app from their devices.
And, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted on March 1 to grant President Biden powers to declare a ban on the app.
US lawmakers argue that ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, has expansive data-collection practices that violate the privacy of Americans.
Under Chinese law, ByteDance could be forced to turn over the collected data to the government.
Earlier this month, FBI chief Christopher Wray told the US Intelligence Senate Committee the Chinese government could use TikTok to control software on millions of devices, as well as distribute political propaganda to unsuspecting American users.
Chew said during his testimony he’ll be "sharing all the company is doing to protect Americans using the app."
TikTok rejects the spying claims and insists it has never given any data to the Communist regime and claims it has spent over $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts to appease the US.
"If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access," TikTok said.
Some US lawmakers are describing the political push to ban TikTok as "fearmongering."
New York Representative and Democrat Jamaal Bowman plans to hold a press conference with TikTok creators on Capitol Hill Wednesday to oppose the ban, reported Reuters.
Singling out TikTok is "unacceptable," Bowman said.
Instead of a ban, Bowman said the US needs comprehensive "Big Tech regulation" that addresses Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others.
Banning TikTok "would be another message to younger voters that we don't care about what you think," Bowman said.
Not mentioned by either side is the fact that ByteDance owns another app that is wildly popular with many TikTok users and social media influencers in the US.
According to Google Play, the free CapCut video editing app owned by ByteDance has been downloaded over 500 million times.
CapCut is listed as the #2 photo and video app in the US version of the App Store, with nearly 300,000 reviews and a 4.7 rating out of 5 stars.
In a separate announcement Tuesday, TikTok detailed new community guidelines and upcoming plans to secure user data.
Chew’s message had been watched by over three million viewers on the TikTok app by late afternoon Tuesday.
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