TikTok hearing raises concerns about app’s potential banning


Outside of the J building, Pranathi Sudharshan and Glenys Oblea record a TikTok during lunch on April 14. Photo by Racxel Domingo.

Waking up from the night after posting a TikTok on her account, Tanvi Das was greeted by endless notifications regarding her latest post, finding out her video was at one million views and climbing.

“I didn’t know what was happening because every time you refresh the page, more random people would like it,” Das said. “I thought I was getting hacked like it was just a bunch of bots.”

Just overnight, Das acquired more likes, followers and views to which videos that she posted afterwards also gained more recognition. With this, she hopes to reach out to audiences and bring awareness to topics she cares about.

“I just don’t want to focus on posting videos of myself,” Das said. “I want to spread awareness about issues that I really care about and I want to try to make good money off of it.”

However, Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, was brought into a five hour hearing regarding the concerns of user privacy protections on March 29. Allegations were brought forward, including that TikTok, having a relationship with its Beijing parent company ByteDance, is providing data by said parent company and giving it to the Chinese government. 

“To the American people watching today, hear this: TikTok is a weapon by the Chinese Communist party to spy on you, manipulate what you see and exploit for future generations,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers said during Chew’s testimony, according to USA Today.

Regarding this speculation, Chew adherently denied the allegations.

“I have not seen any evidence. I am eagerly awaiting discussions where we can talk about evidence and then we can address the concerns that are being raised,” Chew said in his testimony.

As the arguments revolved in a cycle, going back and forth, one representative within the chair of the committee came to a conclusion.

“TikTok has repeatedly chosen a path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. ”Your platform should be banned.”

Not only were allegations made regarding privacy protections about one of the fastest growing apps in the U.S., but many speculations were made about this app’s effects on users’ mental health. Congressmen were questioning the “endless scrolling” along with the potentially harmful content towards the younger audience.

“[Teenagers] spend way too much time on TikTok. I checked my screen time activity and on average I spent 2 hours and 14 minutes on TikTok per day, which accounts for a pretty hefty fraction of the amount of hours I am awake,” Claire Huang said. 

Although Chew was widely interrogated about TikTok’s seemingly negative effects on current users, many also believe that it has a vast positive impact on this generation. From a new way of connecting with current or new friends to entertainment, TikTok has grown to also be a source to individuals who enjoy sharing moments in their lives.

“It also is used as a place to vent your feelings or find people that would also have the same interests as you. The range is very wide for how TikTok affects people’s daily lives,” Glenys Oblea said. 

After the hearing concerning the issues surrounding privacy policies for TikTok’s 150 million American users, along with the possibility of the app being banned, reactions of these users surfaced on the internet.

“If TikTok was banned I would be sad because it is one of my favorite social media apps to constantly scroll and post on,” Nathan Martirez said. “But there are other alternatives so it would not be missed too much.”