TikTok is ramping up a public relations campaign to fend off the possibility of a nationwide ban by the Biden administration, and it’s bringing some unconventional advocates to help: online influencers.
Dozens of TikTok creators — some with millions of followers on the video-sharing app — came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby in favor of the platform, one day before lawmakers are slated to grill the company’s chief executive about concerns over user data falling into the hands of the Chinese government.
Shou Zi Chew plans to tell Congress on Thursday that TikTok, which was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs, is committed to user safety, data protection and security, and keeping the platform free from Chinese government influence. He will also answer questions from U.S. lawmakers worried about the social media platform’s effects on its young user base.
At the heart of TikTok’s trouble is a Chinese national intelligence law that would compel Chinese companies to fork over data to the government for whatever purposes it deems to involve national security. There’s also concern Beijing might try to push pro-China narratives or misinformation through the platform.
At a media event coordinated by TikTok on Wednesday, some content creators acknowledged that concerns about data security are legitimate, but pointed to precautions the company is taking, such as a $1.5 billion plan — dubbed Project Texas — to route all U.S. data to domestic servers owned and maintained by the software giant Oracle.