03/22/2023 By Jeff Grundy
Last week President Joe Biden announced that he would be considering legislation banning Chinese-owned social media giant TikTok unless their Chinese owners agree to sell off their company shares. TikTok, under the name Douyin in Chinese markets, is owned by Chinese tech company Bytedance and is worth an estimated 66 billion dollars. It’s widely popular, with over 100 million U.S. users.
One of those users with over 160,000 followers and over 2 million likes is Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). Bowman frequently posts his thoughts and light-hearted videos of his day-to-day life to his account. But what might be viewed as a simple way to build name recognition and connect with voters is now growing into a wider movement. In an interview on Tuesday with NBC News, Bowman rejected claims that China has been using the app for potential espionage, saying, “There are many apps on our phones right now that are Chinese apps. And so the idea that ‘Oh, TikTok is the boogeyman—’ is just part of a political fear-mongering.”
Representative Bowman announced plans to hold a press conference with over 30 TikTok creators whose livelihoods would be at risk with greater restrictions on the app. This comes as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew plans to testify Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to address how the company plans to protect U.S. users from surveillance and other harms.