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TikTok ban – as it happened: CEO Shou Chew says social media apps should be banned from government devices

TikTok is facing a complete ban in the US over fears that China is using the app as a covert tool for spying and spreading propaganda

Anthony Cuthbertson,Graeme Massie
Friday 24 March 2023 13:07 GMT

TikTok CEO Shou Chew says that no government devices should have social media apps on them.

“I disagree with that characterisation. I think the government devices should have no social media apps to be honest, not just targeted at us,” he told Rep John Joyce, from Pennsylvania during his testimony before Congress on Thursday.

TikTok is facing a complete ban in the US over fears that China is using the app as a covert tool for spying and spreading propaganda.

Mr Chew testified before Congress, with members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee raising their concerns about how much access the Chinese government has to user data, as well as how much influence the Chinese Communist Party has over it.

TikTok has consistently denied such allegations, though this has not stopped the US and other countries from banning the app from government and military-issued devices.

Some countries like India have even issued a nationwide ban of TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps as a result of national security worries.

With more than 150 million TikTok users in the US, many will be following Thursday’s proceedings closely to see if Biden’s administration follows India by banning TikTok.

You can follow all the latest news and updates in our live coverage here.


Hello and welcome...

to The Independent’s coverage of TikTok and the looming US ban. We’ll be bringing you all the latest news and developments as CEO Shou Chew prepares to face questions from lawmakers in Washington on Thursday.

His appearance could prove pivotal to whether or not the Biden Administration decides to push forward with a complete ban of the hugely popular app, having already blocked it from devices used by government workers and military personnel. TikTok was the most downloaded app in the US last year, with any action set to impact more than 150 million users.

Anthony Cuthbertson22 March 2023 14:43

Shou Chew has less than 24 hours to wait before he appears before Congress at 10am local time (2pm GMT) on Thursday, 23 March.

He has already posted a TikTok asking US users what they want their elected representatives to know about “what you love” about TikTok.

“I’ll be testifying before Congress this week to share all that we’re doing to protect Americans using the app and deliver on our mission to inspire creativity and to bring joy,” he said in the post published to TikTok’s main account.

His own account has been remarkably quiet considering he’s the boss of the app, having posted less than a couple of dozen times in its history. His low profile is in keeping with his public persona, which he has managed to keep extremely private compared to the heads of other tech giants.

There’s only six sentences on his Wikipedia page, but if you want to find out more you can read this:

How a Facebook intern became the boss of TikTok

Despite heading the world’s most popular app, the Wikipedia page of the enigmatic CEO is just six sentences long

Anthony Cuthbertson22 March 2023 15:01

TikTok ban warning from CEO Shou Chew

His warning that “all 150 million” US users could be banned has already generated dozens of ‘duets’ from TikTok users, with the majority of them appearing to offer their support both for Chew and TikTok.

While TikTok’s official account, which the video was posted to, has close to 70 million followers and 288 million likes, Chew’s personal account has just 17,000 followers and 68,000 likes. He could see that change in the coming days, with his appearance before Congress set to put his name on headlines around the world.

Anthony Cuthbertson22 March 2023 16:26

TikTok influencers address potential ban of app in Washington DC

TikTok influencer Janette Ok speaks during a media availability, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Washington.
TikTok influencer Janette Ok speaks during a media availability, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Washington. (AP)
TikTok influencer Gohar Khan speaks during a media availability, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Washington.
TikTok influencer Gohar Khan speaks during a media availability, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Washington. (AP)
Graeme Massie22 March 2023 22:12

Content creator @aidanpleasestoptalking gives view on TikTok ban

Content creator Aidan Kohn-Murphy, who is known as @aidanpleasestoptalking, has almost 300,000 TikTok followers.

“When Trump threatened to ban TikTok, young people mobilized. It was one of the big factors of youth turnout in 2020,” said Mr Kohn-Murphy, who also runs @GenZforChange account.

“I think young people are already disaffected with politics in a lot of ways, and I think this is going to build on that,” he told NBC News.

Graeme Massie22 March 2023 23:01

TikTok star V Spehar says he believes White House still understands platform’s importance

V Spehar, known as @underthedesknews on TikTok, says he still believes that the Biden administration understands the importance of TikTok.

“I think the White House certainly recognizes the importance and the reach this platform has, or I wouldn’t have two letters sitting at home on my desk right now signed by Joe Biden saying how important my platform is and how proud he is of the work I do,” Spehar told NBC News.

Graeme Massie23 March 2023 01:04

TikTok star @duncanyounot defends app

“I want to stop the misconception that it’s just an app. It’s so much more than that,” said Duncan Joseph, who has more than 4.5 million followers of his @duncanyounot account.

“If it were to be removed, these communities can’t just go to another spot. This is the home … and you just can’t rip that social fabric away from so many people.”

Graeme Massie23 March 2023 03:03

People gather for a press conference about their opposition to a TikTok ban on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on 22 March 2023.

The White House reportedly told TikTok earlier this month that the ap will be banned in the US if it continues to be owned by the Beijing-based tech firm Bytedance.

(AFP via Getty Images)
Graeme Massie23 March 2023 05:05

Naomi Hearts says TikTok gives marginalised groups online a voice

“I feel like, as a trans woman, being on this platform, I’ve had opportunities I never would have had if I had not been for TikTok,” said Hearts, who is known on TikTok as @naomiheartsxo. It’s very disheartening to see people try to take that away.”

And she added: “I do this because I want to be the representation I wish I saw growing up.”

“I feel like the app is … a place where people come to feel a sense of humanity and a sense of togetherness and so it really is disheartening to see [a possible ban] but I hope our stories help to change their [politicians’] minds a bit,” she told NBC News.

Graeme Massie23 March 2023 06:59

Average US TikTok user ‘well past college age'

There’s some interesting and surprising details included in the pre-submitted written testimony of TikTok CEO Shou Chew.

While many may think the majority of TikTok users in the US are children and young adults, Mr Chew claims that the average user is actually “well past college age”.

Although some people may still think of TikTok as a dancing app for teenagers, the reality is that our platform and our community have become so much more for so many.

More than 150 million people in the United States use TikTok on a monthly basis, with the average user today being an adult well past college age. Their videos provide a lens through which the rest of the world can experience American culture. Examples include TikTok’s role in bringing exposure to American musicians, artists, chefs, and many more. While users in the United States represent 10 percent of our global community, their voice accounts for 25 percent of the total views around the world .

Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok

You can read his full written statement ahead of today’s hearing here.

Anthony Cuthbertson23 March 2023 10:09

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