That TikTok hearing was pretty messed up, right?


Yesterday continued Congress’s latest historical past of calling tech executives right into a listening to to berate them about their extreme assortment of customers’ non-public information for monetary means. However the place Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai suffered by the hearings solely to face little to no repercussions for his or her probably egregious assortment of knowledge and anti-competitive practices, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was met with one thing much more outlined — and the customers of his platform instantly picked up on it.

“Your platform ought to be banned,” was one of many first issues Chew heard when the listening to began. That was from Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) in her opening assertion. Her thoughts appeared made up, as did lots of the members of Congress on the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee, and for the subsequent few hours, Chew was berated by the committee members for all the pieces from TikTok challenges to NyQuil rooster.

The members appeared significantly involved in TikTok’s relationship with China. And that is sensible. China is an authoritarian capitalist state the place the federal government will fortunately exert affect to construct revenue however the place it additionally has undue affect over the businesses that base their operations there. As a result of TikTok’s guardian firm, ByteDance, relies in China, there’s potential for China to achieve entry to information managed by TikTok that it may not have the ability to for corporations primarily based in different nations, reminiscent of Meta and Google.

China’s attain on this regard is large, and its means to exert affect is highly effective. When Canada arrested the CFO and daughter of Huawei’s founder in 2018, China retaliated by arresting two Canadians and retrying and sentencing a third to death. “Due to the character of the political system in China, you might be naturally related to the federal government, and the federal government might put a whole lot of stress on any agency in China to show in information and to spy on different nations,” Lynette Ong, an affiliate professor of political science on the College of Toronto, told me at the time.

China’s additionally retaliated towards its personal residents. When Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, spoke out towards deliberate tech regulation, he seemed to disappear in a similar way to the famous actress Fan Bingbing (her crime was failing to pay sufficient taxes).

And customers on TikTok took discover

However China’s means to exert horrible affect on its corporations and residents and the way that may make TikTok vulnerable to undue affect wasn’t the road of questioning Congress appeared involved in pursuing. The few occasions it did come up, the questioning Congress member would typically proceed their rant, by no means giving Chew time to reply. Congress spent a whole lot of time asking him about affiliations with the Chinese language Communist Get together — China’s sole ruling political social gathering. Incessantly, they might consult with the social gathering, usually known as the CCP, as “communists,” calling again to the times of McCarthyism.

Between their obsession with communism, their often obnoxious and condescending tone, and the occasional assumption that Chew was Chinese language, regardless of his repeated reminders that he’s Singaporean, the listening to was a bizarre, brutal, xenophobic mess. And users on TikTok took notice.

They weren’t followers. The app has been flooded with movies (which TikTok itself might very properly be boosting) of customers mocking Congress, supporting Chew and TikTok, and pointing out the flagrant hypocrisy of Congress’s resolution to focus on TikTok whereas ignoring the equally egregious abuse of knowledge and algorithms by its American rivals. TikTok may drive harmful challenges embraced by teenagers, however I don’t suppose it’s incited a genocide as Meta has.

That is type of the issue with partaking in a xenophobic and deeply hypocritical marketing campaign towards a single, wildly in style app. Its very engaged customers will discover you’re being an asshole! And whereas Chew definitely didn’t do himself or TikTok a whole lot of favors yesterday or within the years since Trump first known as for a ban, Congress was in uncommon type.

The thought of a Congressional listening to is you get folks mad and in your aspect so you could have the political capital to push by no matter payments you’ve written on the matter. However typically you simply appear like a dumbass, and Congress looked thunderingly out of touch yesterday. No matter political capital they’d hoped to achieve was misplaced on the customers of TikTok. Representatives lectured Chew and TikTok customers over the hazard of the app, however wrapping it up in bizarre xenophobic rhetoric and tech illiteracy simply made them look pathetic to the viewers they have been attempting to achieve.

If the plan was to get folks to rethink utilizing TikTok as the USA jockeys for a worldwide management with China, I don’t suppose it succeeded. Not if all our FYP feeds are something to go by.


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