The Chinese video platform TikTok has seemingly found its first major ally on Capitol Hill as the company fights for its future operating within the American market.
New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman said in an interview with NBC News that he opposed efforts to ban the app and had seen no evidence that it is being used for purposes of Chinese espionage.
“This is a space where these creators have found a platform to share their ideas, their inspirations, their thoughts, their voices with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. And why do we want to take that away?” said Bowman. “Why do we need to ban a platform that 150 million Americans now use?”
“There are many apps on our phones right now that are Chinese apps. And so the idea that, ‘Oh, TikTok is the boogeyman’ — it’s just part of a political fearmongering that’s happening,” continued Bowman, who remains an avid user of the video-sharing app and boasts a substantial following himself.
He went on to compare concerns about TikTok to Republican “fearmongering” about “open borders,” as well as “xenophobia around China.”
“I haven’t seen any hard evidence that TikTok is committing some form of espionage,” he added. “What I’ve heard is speculation. And what I’ve heard is innuendo.”
Bowman’s staunch defense of the app comes ahead of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s testimony on Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee as Congress ramps up scrutiny over the company. The company recently confirmed that it has now grown to 150 million monthly active users in the United States, a 50 percent increase from the 100 million reported in 2020.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives gave authorization to the Biden administration to ban the app on national security grounds, while a growing number of Senators are also backing the move. The app is currently banned on all official U.S. government devices and in many Republican-controlled states.
When we look at American companies like Facebook looking the other way in 2016 when Russia colluded to impact our election — Facebook is a national security risk. We’re not talking about a ban on Facebook.
I think the more we learn, the more you’ll see people stand up and defend TikTok,” the New York congressman said. “Let me say this: If information comes out that clearly shows TikTok as a problem, I will say I was wrong. I have no problem saying that. I just haven’t seen that information as of yet.
TikTok, meanwhile, said it appreciated Bowman’s support on the issue. “We appreciate the support of these members of Congress, and we will remain steadfast in our commitment to building a safe, secure, and innovative platform that our community of 1 billion strong have come to know us for,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown.
However, Bowman’s standing within the Democrat caucus means his opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. An active member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he is also a member of ‘The Squad,’ a group of far-left progressives that includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MI).
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