TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified for hours yesterday before the House Energy and Science Committee and was hammered from the left and the right. Washington observers came away with the impression that it was a huge disaster for TikTok. But content creators on TikTok were less impressed by the Washington establishment.
Full disclaimer: I’m a TikTok user and I love it. It’s a great tool to expand my audience and it’s fun to make 30-second timelapse videos of my cartoons to music. But I can see the concerns about it. Even when I was a smoker I was not a fan of tobacco companies.
During yesterday’s hearing, the representatives kept trying to pin Chew down on TikTok being a tool for China to spy on users in the United States. The best they could get was “no,” and the best they could do was, “Nyuh-huh.”
Daniel Castro, the vice president of a science and tech policy think tank tweeted, “Congressional hearings would be much better if Committee rules prohibited loaded questions. Not all questions can be answered with yes/no answers.”
It’s like it’s the first time this crowd has ever watched a congressional hearing. And this committee didn’t feature the likes of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, or Jim Gym Jordan.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown, the senior editor at Reason, tweeted, “TikTok’s CEO keeps essentially saying he’s not an agent of the Chinese Communist Party and the lawmakers are like… BUT AREN’T YOU ACTUALLY? like he’s going to trip up Scooby Doo villain style if they keep saying it.”
Will you admit to being a spy if I give you a Scooby Snack?
TikTok is a private company in China, but China is an authoritarian state. Is anything totally private in China? The government owns one percent of ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, and has placed a government official on the board. Financial Times describes the one percent share as a “golden share” investment, which is a nominal share that can outvote all other shares in certain circumstances.
Surely we need to protect our nation from China’s spying, but there’s a fine line between security and xenophobia. What information is China going to get from American users that are not already being data mined by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and maybe even LinkedIn (the most inept and useless app since MySpace)? Several representatives from yesterday’s hearing gloated over their performance and questioning of Chew…on Twitter. Couldn’t at least one of them detect the irony in that?
Eva, director of cybersecurity at Electronic Frontier Foundation tweeted, “If you think the US needs a TikTok ban and not a comprehensive privacy law regulating data brokers, you don’t care about privacy, you just hate that a Chinese company has built a dominant social media platform.”
The TikTok kids are right in that this was a bunch of old people screaming about something they don’t understand. The entire hearing was basically, “Get off my lawn.”
Olivia Julianna, director of Politics and government affairs at Gen-Z for Change was upset TikTok’s CEO wasn’t given much of a chance to talk, tweeting, “Watching the hearing on TikTok right now, and the amount of leading questions and interruption to the CEO trying to answer questions is so extremely unprofessional and irritating. This is a hearing— let us ACTUALLY HEAR him.”
Several TikTokers TikToked about Chew not being allowed to speak, like this one…and this one too.
And are Republicans truly upset over Chinese spies when they were fine with Russia meddling with our election? You can’t say you care about security when you defend white nationalist terrorists who attacked our Capitol building. A lot of Republicans may still be chafed that TikTok users played a huge part in Donald Trump believing he was going to have a huge rally in Tulsa in 2020, only to discover a very tiny crowd of MAGAts.
I’m all for the government banning TikTok’s app on government-owned devices. Corporations can do the same thing. In fact, it’s probably smart to ban most apps on government and corporate-owned devices. Angry Birds knows where you live.
Both parties are coming down hard on TikTok. Both Trump and Biden have threatened to ban it in the United States. But I personally believe the Republican outrage is all Sarah Cooper’s fault.
Signed prints: The signed prints are just $40.00 each. Every cartoon on this site is available. You can pay through PayPal. If you don’t like PayPal, you can snail mail it to Clay Jones, P.O. Box 3721, Fredericksburg, VA 22402. I can mail the prints directly to you or if you’re purchasing as a gift, directly to the person you’re gifting.
Notes on my book, Tales From The Trumpster Fire: There are 19 copies of my book in stock, which go for $45.00 each, signed. Also, I have copies of my first book from 1997, Knee-Deep in Mississippi available for $20.00.
Tip Jar: if you want to support the cartoonist, please send a donation through PayPal to email@example.com. You can also snail it to P.O. Box 3721, Fredericksburg, VA 22402.
Watch me draw: