Congressional Hearings about TikTok



This hearing is far from over, and sad to say the hard part is yet to come. I personally really like TikTok, so hopefully it doesn’t get shut down.

What is worse than one incompetent Congressperson? 435 incompetent Congresspeople.

Shou Chew, the CEO of TikTok, testified before Congress on Thursday, because of the suspicions against the Chinese ownership of this app, as well as the claims of child endangerment caused by the widespread videos promoting dangerous acts.

This hearing serves for the House members to ask Chew questions about TikTok’s relationship with ByteDance, their Chinese owner. The questions posed are in reference to the handling of sensitive data, as well as the risks to teens. The app is working hard to maintain their audience in the United States, their biggest market with 150 million users.

Lawmakers are working to confirm their theory that the app is selling data to the Chinese government, as well as influencing public opinion.

As someone who had to watch and sift through over four hours of footage for this hearing, let’s go over the ineptitude of Congress and their questioning of the subject.

Congress does bring up good points, yet the questions they ask and the way they pose themselves are ridiculous and fail to reach the full potential of what could have been an impactful testimony, and convey to the people why they should mistrust TikTok.

Chew first starts out his opening speech with his background, mentioning that he was born in Singapore(an Asian country off of Malaysia), went to the UK for college, then moved to the US and met his wife. So far, the ties to China seem to lack, other than the company that owns them, yet those facts seem to falter as well.

One of the points brought up by US legislators is that ByteDance is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, yet it is shown in testimony that the company is 60% owned by global investors, 20% controlled by the owner, Chew, and 20% owned by global employees. Not only this, three out of the five board members of ByteDance are American. The headquarters of ByteDance are in LA, as well as Singapore.

Project Texas is mentioned quite a bit in the opening speeches and throughout testimony yet are conveyed in different ways. While US Representatives are convinced that this project is just a marketing scheme, Chew explains this project as a safety measure to protect American data and keep the access to this data to American officials.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) started off the questioning with debunking arguments made by Chew, stating that many high officials of ByteDance are Chinese, and have connections to the CCP.

It is also made known by the Wall Street Journal that the CCP will “would make a decision” in regards to selling TikTok from ByteDance to another company.

Although this article is about how Congress failed in their questioning I want it to be clear and objective. As a journalist it is important to convey the whole truth, not just the truth I agree with. With that statement, Chairwoman Rodgers actually did a good job with her questioning, and made me question whether the CCP does control TikTok. It does seem like Chew was avoiding questions or at least pushing back on questions that really called for a simple yes or no. Chew also can’t confirm, based on the Ranking Member questioning, that he doesn’t sell data to anyone.

What I notice, especially with people they don’t agree with, the posture that the Congress people use is disrespectful, even during their specific questioning. In both the Ketanji Brown hearing as well as this one, the posture used is like one I use in a class where I am tired and bored.

There is quite a lot of repetition in this hearing. As someone who is watching 4 ½ hours of footage, I do not believe that multiple people need to bring up the Wall Street Journal article, if it is said once, it doesn’t need to be said again.

On that note, all the Congresspeople should be prepared on what to say and the questions that they ask. Love the California representation, but Representative Eshoo, please know what you are going to say before you say it, again this footage is over four hours long, please ask questions in a concise way without all the filler words, spaces, and ums.

Something that is clear in this trial is the interrupting. I understand, from my time on Mock Trial, that there is a very firm time limit, yet most of the interrupting taking place is not one of maximizing time, but of preventing Chew from answering the questions.

A lot of the Representatives mention different challenges, such as the blackout challenge, and NyQuil chicken challenge, yet I, and many of my fellow teenagers have ever done this challenge nor have ever seen this challenge. If someone can fill me in on the milk crate challenge please do so because I have never even heard of it.

Representative DeGette from Colorado mentioned a specific video of a hydroxychloroquine tutorial from a grapefruit and the dangers this face, specifically mentioning that this chemical cannot treat covid and is even harmful to be in contact with. But isn’t it former President Donald Trump who recommended us to take that drug to begin with? Yet, there is no hearing with Trump over that specific statement.

It is sad to say, even with my avid curiosity of current events and my obsession with Congress, I got most of my initial information and learned about this hearing through the app in question.

It just so happens that video clips and other jokes about this trial have been circulating through TikTok, and there are even edits of the CEO himself.

It is clear that boomers are running the Government. Representative Hudson from North Carolina, who isn’t even that old at just over 50, doesn’t even know how Wi-Fi works. He asked the CEO if TikTok has access to the Wi-Fi network, not realizing anything that requires the internet needs Wi-Fi to work.

Representative Carter from Georgia, someone who doesn’t seem to understand that asking a question elicits an answer, doesn’t understand that different countries ban different apps and allow other apps. The whole hearing is about whether or not Congress should ban TikTok, have they ever considered that maybe the Chinese government did the same thing and that is why they don’t TikTok or at least use a modified version of TikTok?

Congressman Carter also doesn’t understand how filters work. Why is he so confused that a filter that adds something to your eyes, like glasses, requires the app to use the camera to determine where the eyes are on the face?

Many say that most of the causes of the hostility created during this hearing are because of racism. Many congressmen called Chew by the wrong name, using similar Asian last names instead. It was found that Facebook, an US company, sold data to different organizations to specifically target advertisements and influence different political opinions, yet, although there was a hearing, it wasn’t nearly as hostile as this one, and they didn’t even ban the app. The House members even compared Chew to Putin, which they would never do to someone in the United States.

Many Congresspeople called Chew a liar, and told him that lying in court is a federal crime. In the circumstance that it was mentioned, during a question about the suppression of information in reference to the massacre of Tiananmen Square, if the congresspeople do a quick search on the app, they will know the answer to his question and how he was being truthful. If the congresspeople truly thought he was being untruthful, why not prosecute him for perjury? Or better yet, why have him testify?

These failures have embarrassed the US, and it is only the first day. The sad day has come, I feel sympathy for a billionaire.