After the 5-hour congressional questioning of Shou Zi Chew, the TikTok CEO, targeting the app’s relationship with China, TikTokers have defied the application’s potential ban. Some creators have doubted Congress representatives for being ignorant about the updated technology trends. It’s being said that Chew had to answer questions like “if TikTok connects to a user’s home Wifi network.”
While these questions may entertain individuals, TikTok creators seem to be highly concerned about the app and the community’s future.
While answering Richard Hardson, Chew mystifyingly explained that this happens only when the user is connected to Wifi. However, such strange and unlettered questions were not unique to Chew’s interrogation.
In 2018, the late senator, Orrin Hatch, asked Mark Zuckerberg how a free app like Facebook could earn. However, Zuckerberg smartly explained that the platform runs ads to make money.
At another tech hearing in 2020, senator Richard Blumenthal went viral because of their notorious question to Facebook’s global head of safety – he asked if the head would “commit to ending finsta.”
What Creators Are Saying
Numerous creators have expressed their views on the matter. For instance, creator Vitus “V” Spehar, aka “Under the Desk News,” feels that the government is deliberately planning to wipe off U.S. citizens from a potent global application like TikTok. The creator owes his success to TikTok, as the platform helped him amass 2.9 million followers through his news channel.
Congress made clear that they don’t understand TikTok, they don’t listen to their constituents who are in the community of TikTokers.Vitus V Spehar
Spehar, with a group of TikTokers, traveled to Washington D.C. this week to speak on behalf of TikTok and raise awareness against the potential threat of a national ban on the application. The group took part in a press conference put on by an exceptionalist Congress representative, Jamal Bowman. He labeled the raised questions about the app as ‘hysteria and panic.’
Another tech professional, Dr. Casey Fiesler (professor of tech ethics and policy, University of Colorado), says that the national security concerns around TikTok are somewhat overstated. Currently, no clear evidence has come up showing the app is involved in data breaching.
I don’t think there’s any way to frame this as a general data privacy issue without going after every other tech company.Dr. Casey Fiesler
However, she couldn’t ignore the reports which stated that the applications’ Beijing-based parent organization, ByteDance, had gotten its hands on American user data.
Casey also said she deals with more than 1 lakh followers on TikTok and often experiences issues like content moderation and other topics. Casey believes these issues are more troublesome, and a generic data privacy issue probably can’t outweigh the necessity of addressing them.
The Debate and the Proposed Solution
A 2022 investigation reported that Chinese engineers could openly access the TikTok data of U.S. users. Another report revealed that the TikTok data of two U.S. journalists were illegitimately accessed by a group of engineers. In fact, they were all set to refer to the location information to find out if those reporters had collaborated with ByteDance employees who handed over the information to the press.
TikTokers claims that sharing data with a private Chinese company and the Chinese government is not the same.
The TikTok authority has also proposed introducing “Project Texas,” a 1.5 billion dollar plan focused on moving users’ data to oracle servers. In addition, the platform will also deploy a subsidiary organization (TikTok US Data Security Inc.) to supervise the national security aspect.