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Highlights of TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew Showdown in Congress

TikTok is facing threats of getting banned in the U.S. 150 million American users will lose access to the video-sharing app if it gets banned. Meanwhile, thousands of people use this app for their small businesses. If it gets boycotted, various small businesses will be in deep water. 


On Thursday, TikTok owner, Shou Zi Chew, gave testimony in the US Congress for the first time despite knowing that it would turn the events in dire straits for him. And the popular video-sharing app has its future at stake in the U.S.


TikTok’s CEO faced a storm of questions on the privacy of TikTok and its relationship with China. He had questions on the data sharing policy of the app and why several journalists’ data was leaked to ByteDance. 


TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is a Singaporean businessman and entrepreneur. In 2021, he took over the position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TikTok. 

Summary of the Shou Zi Chew Hearing at Congress 

For four and a half hours, TikTok’s owner faced a torrid of viscous and never-ending questions from the legislature in front of the House Committee on Energy and Congress. 

Chew’s Children Doesn’t Use TikTok

During the testimony, congressional representative Nanette Barragan asked Chew whether his children use TikTok. Chew answered his children don’t use TikTok as they are younger than 13, and the children's version of TikTok isn’t available to them in Singapore. 


In contrast, if his children lived in America, he would have let them use it.

National Security of the U.S.

U.S republicans and democrats stressed the privacy concerns of U.S. data being leaked to the Chinese government. China's influence over ByteDance, which owns TikTok, was repeatedly questioned by legislators. 


Chief advocate Cathy McMorris Rodgers and congressional representative Frank Pallone asked questions on the national security of the U.S. to Chew. Democrat Pallone called TikTok a “Beijing Communist-based ownership.”


Chew intelligibly refuted such claims saying, “ByteDance isn’t owned or controlled by the Chinese Government.” Chew continued that there is “no evidence” of interference from the Chinese government to access the U.S. data, and various risks pointed out are “hypothetical and theoretical.”

Project Texas 

Chew spoke about a policy known as Project Texas, which isn’t fully operational yet. $1.5bn Project Texas will store the American data under the computer technology company Oracle based in Texas, overseen by American personnel. 


According to him, ByteDance engineers have access to data. However, he declined any request from the Chinese government for access to the data. Chew continued, “legacy U.S. data was being deleted from U.S. and Singapore servers. 

Owner of ByteDance Shares

Shou Zi Chew couldn’t distance ByteDance from TikTok. Mr. Chew used to be the financial officer of the Chinese company and still owns its shares. 

Conclusive Evidence Against TikTok 

Legislators collectively stormed against Tiktok's management of social media issues, spam messages, and inappropriate and illegal content. Several legislatures took their time to show videos that contained harmful and suicide-inducing content. 


Shou Zi Chew replied that they use 40,000 moderators and an algorithm to flag abusive and harmful content. Later, he admitted to not being perfect at doing this, but they worked very hard. Chew added it would use "third-party validators" to review its algorithm. 


Republican representative Kat Cammack played a TikTok video posted on February 10. The video contained a threatening message to the ongoing testimony with a gunshot voice. 


She said, "How could you protect the privacy and security of 150 million Americans when you can't even protect the people in this room?"


Following this comment, TikTok removed the video. 

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (CA)

Mr. Chew didn't give in to the members of Congress. He said when being questioned on TikTok's user data, implying American companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica don't have an exceptional track record with data. 


Zi Chew was pointing to the 2018 Facebook controversy that caused an uproar. A British political consulting company, Cambridge Analytica, has the data of over 30 million Facebook users' profiles. Meanwhile, Facebook admitted to having data of 87 million users, with 70.6 of them being American residents. 

Censoring of the Tiananmen Square Incident

 TikTok’s CEO refused that the Chinese government has no authority over the app and the app encourages freedom of expression. Chew denied the claim of removing videos about the genocide of Uighur Muslims by the Chinese government. 


However, the 2019 report of The Guardian newspaper adduced leaked documents that proved TikTok removed posts related to sensitive issues for the Chinese government, including the persecution of Uighur Muslims.


Lastly Shou Zi Chew’s hearing has done wonders, as Buddy Carter remarked;

“Welcome to the most bipartisan committee in Congress.” Chew has unified the democrats and republicans, which hasn’t been realized in the last three or four years except for Vladimir Putin, President and Prime Minister of Russia.




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