Key takeaways from TikTok hearing in Congress – and the uncertain road ahead Kari Paul in San Francisco and Johana Bhuiyan in New York

The first appearance in Congress for TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew stretched greater than five hours, with contentious thinking targeting the app’s relationship with China and protections for its youngest customers.

Chew’s appearance comes at a pivotal time for TikTok, which is facing bipartisan fireplace after experiencing a meteoric upward push in reputation in recent years. The business enterprise is owned with the aid of Chinese firm ByteDance, raising worries approximately China’s impact over the app – criticisms Chew again and again attempted to withstand for the duration of the listening to.“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance isn’t an agent of China or some other united states of america,” he stated in organized testimony.

He defended TikTok’s privateness practices, stating they may be are in step with the ones of different social media structures, adding that during many cases the app collects much less facts than its friends. “There are more than a hundred and fifty million Americans who love our platform, and we recognise we have a responsibility to defend them,” Chew stated.

Here are some of the alternative key criticisms Chew confronted at Thursday’s landmark hearing, and what ought to lie in advance.TikTok’s relationship to China beneath hearth
Many participants of the committee targeted on ByteDance and its executives, who lawmakers say have ties to the Chinese Communist birthday celebration.

The committee individuals requested how regularly Chew become in touch with them, and puzzled whether the organization’s proposed solution, referred to as Project Texas, could offer enough safety in opposition to Chinese laws that require organizations to make person statistics on hand to the government.

At one factor, Tony Cárdenas, a Democrat from California, requested Chew outright if TikTok is a Chinese enterprise. Chew replied that TikTok is international in nature, not to be had in mainland China, and founded in Singapore and Los Angeles.

Neal Dunn, a Republican from Florida, requested with comparable bluntness whether ByteDance has “spied on American residents” – a question that came amid reviews the company accessed newshounds’ information in an try to discover which employees have been leaking records. Chew answered that “spying isn’t the proper manner to explain it”.The organization has promised to complete the attempt by the quit of the 12 months, but a few lawmakers wondered whether or not this is possible, with loads of thousands and thousands of lines of supply code requiring assessment in a rather brief quantity of time.

“I am concerned that what you’re presenting with Project Texas just doesn’t have the technical functionality of imparting us the assurances that we want,” the California Republican Jay Obernolte, a congressman and software program engineer, said.Youth safety and mental fitness inside the spotlight
Another frequent recognition became the safety of TikTok’s young users, considering the app has exploded in popularity with this age group in current years. A majority of teenagers inside the US say they use TikTok – with sixty seven% of humans aged thirteen to 17 announcing they’ve used the app and sixteen% of that age organization pronouncing they use it “almost constantly”, consistent with the Pew Research Center.Lawmakers mentioned reports that drug-related content material has unfold on the app, allowing teens to purchase risky materials without problems on line. Chew said such content material violates TikTok policy and that they’re removed whilst diagnosed.

“We take this very critically,” Chew said. “This is an industry-extensive task, and we’re investing as an awful lot as we will. We don’t suppose it represents the majority of the users’ enjoy on TikTok, but it does take place.”

Others mentioned self-damage and eating ailment content material, which have been spreading on the platform. TikTok is likewise going through complaints over lethal “challenges” that have gone viral on the app. Mental health concerns have been underscored at the listening to through the appearance of Dean and Michelle Nasca, the mother and father of a youngster who died through suicide after allegedly being served unsolicited self-harm content on TikTok.

“We want you to do your component,” stated congresswoman Kim Schrier, who is a pediatrician. “It could save this generation.”The federal government has already barred TikTok on authorities devices, and the Biden administration has threatened a national ban. Thursday’s listening to left the destiny of the app in the US uncertain, as participants of the committee regarded unwavering of their conviction that TikTok turned into a tool that could be exploited by way of the Chinese Communist party. Their conviction became reinforced via a record within the Wall Street Journal, launched just hours before the listening to, indicating the Chinese authorities might now not approve a sale of TikTok.

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