The future of TikTok in the United States is questionable as anti-China Republicans gain more influence in Congress and seek stricter oversight of the immensely popular video-sharing app.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has become a political punching bag for US conservatives who claim that the app, which millions of US youth have downloaded, can be used by the Chinese Communist Party for espionage or propaganda (CCP).
Democrats have also joined the chorus of outrage, and US President Joe Biden last week signed a new rule outlawing the use of TikTok on equipment provided by the government. The US Senate and House of Representatives are also prohibited from using TikTok by law.
He told NBC News that continual social media use, particularly on young men and women in America, has a “corrosive affect” and is “very addicting and dangerous.”
According to Gallagher, “We have to ask if we want the CCP to control what is about to become the most powerful media organization in America.”
The national law mirrors dozens of state and local government use bans, and TikTok USA is currently fighting for its existence as a Chinese-owned business with a rising likelihood that it will have to divest from ByteDance in order to continue to be available on US devices.
Before Biden assumed office and adopted a less extreme stance, this was the fate desired by former president Donald Trump, who directed that TikTok operations in the US be sold to a US corporation Oracle.
However, attitudes toward TikTok sharply deteriorated last month after ByteDance was forced to acknowledge that staff members inappropriately accessed the app’s data to track journalists in a bid to find out who was leaking information to the media.
With French President Emmanuel Macron accusing the Chinese social network of suppressing content and promoting online addiction among young people last month, criticism has even spread to other Western nations.
Through the covert interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, TikTok has spent months attempting to reach a long-term agreement with the US government (CFIUS).
According to reports, TikTok and the Biden administration were about to announce a long-term agreement that would have specified stringent protections for the data of US users.
According to Brooke Oberwetter, a representative for TikTok, “The remedy being considered by CFIUS is a comprehensive package of procedures with layers of government and independent scrutiny… well beyond what any peer firm is doing today.”
But FBI Director Christopher Wray, who stated that he continues to view TikTok as a threat to national security, has defended this agreement in the face of widespread criticism.
A government “that doesn’t share our values” and “that has an objective that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States” might exploit US users, Wray said last month, if the Chinese had the power to modify the app’s algorithm.
TikTok vehemently refutes the existence of such regulations by the Chinese government.