WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of top Republican US senators pressured Tickcock on Tuesday, asking the Trump administration to assess the threat that the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app could impede in US elections.
The Tik Tok logo is displayed on the smartphone while standing on the American flag in this portrait image taken on November 8, 2019. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic
In a letter on Tuesday, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and other lawmakers cited alleged censorship by Ticcott of sensitive content, including a video critical of China’s treatment of Uygar minorities, as well as political on social media apps by Beijing Discussions also include an alleged attempt to manipulate.
“We are very concerned that the (Chinese Communist Party) may use its control over TikTok to remove discord among Americans or to distort or manipulate (political) conversations to achieve their preferred political outcomes.” The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the office as director of National Intelligence (ODHI), acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
A spokesperson for the company said Tiktok, although not a “go-to” for political news, “was investing to keep our app safe,” taking cues from peers’ experience during the last election.
“Tiktok already has a strict policy against devolution, and we do not accept political advertisements,” the person said, adding that the content and moderation policies are directed by the California-based team and “from any foreign government Is not affected. ”
The FBI and DHS did not respond to requests for comment, while an ODNI official confirmed receipt of the letter and said “we will respond accordingly.”
The lawmakers, joined by Republicans Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst Thom Tillis, Kevin Kramer and Rick Scott, asked officials to ask if Beijing could raise some political views and conduct influence operations through the popular app, whose It is owned by Beijing Penedance Technology Company.
“If evidence emerges of CCP electoral intervention through Tiktok, will ByteDance be eligible for sanctions?” Under an executive order on foreign electoral influence, MPs asked.
Tiktok is in the crosshairs of the Trump administration as US-China relations soured by the epidemic and Beijing’s move to curb independence in Hong Kong. This month, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said action was imminent to address the national security risks imposed by TikTok.
Trump’s turnout numbers have increased as he prepares to face Democrat Joe Biden in the November election. In 2019, reports from Special Prosecutor Robert Muller found widespread cases of Russian mediation that took advantage of the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
Reporting by Alexandra Elper; Editing by David Gregorio