After TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew spent five hours yesterday defending the app before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, users have started making tribute videos and leaving gushing comments on the app.
The 40-year-old has been called “TikTok daddy” and “the finest CEO of our generation” in fan-edited videos on the platform. Almost 150 million people in the United States use the video-sharing app every month, and Chew was on the hot seat to answer lawmakers’ queries about its future.
Both Democratic and Republican officials have expressed worries over the app’s China-based parent firm and what it means for user safety, data privacy, and national security. Several lawmakers have urged for the site to be outlawed in the US over worries that its parent firm, ByteDance, may or would share US user data with the Chinese government.
According to Chew’s testimony, the Chinese government has never hacked into user accounts. “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew said in the written statement that started his testimony.
Three legislation are now pending in Congress that could limit users’ ability to use TikTok in the United States. Two of these bills would outright ban the platform, while the other would grant the government the authority to outlaw any technology that poses a threat to national security.
At yesterday’s session, the CEO of TikTok was front and center, arguing that a ban on the app would be detrimental to millions of American businesses and that a new subsidiary called Project Texas would provide a significant solution that would allow the service to remain operating in the US.
Read the following articles, the links to which are provided in the following list:
- What Does DC Mean On TikTok: How And When to Use “DC” on TikTok In 2022?
- American Lawmakers Introduce A Bipartisan Bill To Ban China’s Tiktok
- Indiana Sues Tiktok For Violations Of Child Safety And Security
Chew’s defense of the app, which included his support for subcommunities within the app like “BookTok,” a forum for individuals to debate reading recommendations, seemed to strike a chord with many who have found inspiration on the site, even if lawmakers appeared to be skeptical.
Because of the high stakes of the hearing, many people were watching online, and a rising number of creators seem impressed by Chew’s performance. With the description “This app is single-handedly keeping the global economy from tanking so help me understand the problem,” one designer shared a video of Chew in action superimposed over a green screen.
“I had zero opinion of him before but now I like this dude,” one commentator wrote. “The USA congress just made this man america’s most eligible bachelor AND HE AINT EVEN AMERICAN,” another said.
(Just to be clear, Chew is not only not eligible but also not a bachelor. In 2008, while both were students at Harvard Business School, Chew met the woman who would become his wife, Vivian Kao.)
Another user said, “Zuckerberg is just mad bc he could never be this fine,” referring to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, who has also testified before Congress. TikTok sent a statement to BuzzFeed News after the hearing in which they called the investigation “political grandstanding.”
“Shou came prepared to answer questions from Congress, but, unfortunately, the day was dominated by political grandstanding that failed to acknowledge the real solutions already underway through Project Texas or productively address industry-wide issues of youth safety,” the spokesperson said.
As for the hearing itself and the questions posed to the CEO, TikTok users had plenty of criticism for lawmakers. Some of the questions posed to the CEO ranged from the simple (does the app access users’ home Wi-Fi networks?) to the more complex (has ByteDance spied on Americans at the request of the Chinese government?).
“They won’t let the poor man talk or explain anything,” one poster said.
“All these 80+ year old gov people have never touched this app let alone be asking questions about it,” another wrote.
According to a revelation by BuzzFeed News from last year, ByteDance personnel obtained private information about TikTok users in the United States on many occasions in 2021 and 2022.
TikTok user data, including that of the BuzzFeed News writer who broke the news and numerous other journalists who cover TikTok, was obtained without authority by ByteDance workers who were afterwards terminated, according to a statement released by ByteDance in December.
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