TikTok's popularity in the United States (US) is threatened with problems. This video sharing social networking application is affected by the poor relations between the US and China.
US regulators are currently looking more closely at various social media company data privacy practices, after the Facebook Data leak scandal by Cambridge Analytica became an international spotlight.
Not surprisingly, companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become easy targets for skinned by US regulators. Well, TikTok threatened the same problem. Unfortunately, it is more difficult for TikTok to defend themselves because they are a company from China.
In recent years, the US government has indeed become increasingly wary of Chinese companies. They are suspicious that the company from the Bamboo Curtain country has the potential to spy on and steal US-owned technology. TikTok is just one of many Chinese companies affected by this.
As quoted from Wired, TikTok is currently popular among US youth and adolescents. This is a 'fuel' for US regulators and politicians to push their agenda. This was at least seen in a hearing at the US House of Representatives this week. Parliamentarians and national security experts involved in the meeting questioned whether TikTok really operates independently as they claim.
"Parents, if you don't know what TikTok is, find out," said senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), one of the loudest critics when speaking to the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
"TikTok is a company that has links to the Chinese Communist Party, who knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what they sound like, what they watch, and what they share with each other," he continued.
Meanwhile, TikTok refused to send their executive representatives to attend the hearing. The same thing was done by Apple, while representatives of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other internet companies were present.
However, Vanessa Pappas, General Manager of TikTok US, released an official statement on their website, responding to accusations by members of the US parliament.
"Every day, our team in the US makes decisions that we see as the best decisions for the US market, and we are given the freedom to do that," he wrote.
Pappas also said that US TikTok user data is stored in the US, and the content moderation team for the US market is also based in the country, precisely in California.
The trial took place only hours after The Washington Post published an article about the former TikTok staff who said they were instructed by their managers in China to censor videos on the platform. This report justifies MPs' fear of TikTok.
Last month, senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) sent letters to US intelligence officials asking them to investigate national security risks that might be posed by TikTok, including the potential for censorship or manipulation of certain content.
TikTok told The Washington Post that they initially wanted to moderate their platforms according to a set of centralized rules, but then rethinked the 'one for all' approach. Now, they have different policies for each region where TikTok operates.
In addition, previously senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) also sent a letter to Head of TikTok Alex Zhu, asking TikTok to answer a series of questions related to children's privacy.
"It is very important that the data collection efforts of US children related to China can be ended. Because TikTok is owned by ByteDance, this application is subject to foreign laws that allow the Chinese government to take information and technology from us," he concluded.