TikTok’s CEO appears on TikTok to address the possible U.S. ban ahead of his appearance in Washington, D.C.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew posted a video on the platform ahead of his congressional appearance in Washington, D.C., this week to say he’s “super excited to announce” the platform reaching over 150 million users in the U.S.
Chew’s video appeals directly to TikTok users, saying, “Some politicians have started talking about banning TikTok. This could take TikTok away from all 150 million of you.”
Chew’s video serves as a precursor for TikTok users to what he will tell lawmakers on Thursday: that banning TikTok in the U.S. would hurt American businesses and the country’s economy, reasoning that 150 million users represent “almost half the U.S. coming to TikTok to connect, to create, to share, to learn, or just to have some fun.”
“We do not believe that a ban that hurts American small businesses, damages the country’s economy, silences the voices of over 150 million Americans, and reduces competition in an increasingly concentrated market is the solution to a solvable problem,” says Chew’s prepared testimony, released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Tuesday.
“Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country,” Chew’s testimony asserts. “Rather, our approach has been to work transparently and cooperatively with the U.S. government and Oracle to design robust solutions to address concerns about TikTok’s heritage.”
But the issue remains that, as FBI Director Chris Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month, China’s government possesses the authority to seize any company’s data within its jurisdiction, leading to scrutiny surrounding TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
TikTok’s lobbying efforts have increased exponentially within the last few years since efforts by the Trump administration to limit the app. Despite the Biden administration’s rescinding those limitations, motions from both parties to ban the app altogether have intensified in recent months.
As the app’s fate in the U.S. remains uncertain, TikTok still has a few tricks up its sleeve, beginning with securing the Biden-connected political consulting and PR firm SKDK. Meanwhile, dozens of TikTok creators plan to descend on the capital this week as part of a last-ditch lobbying effort to prevent the forced sale of the company. The creators scheduled a press conference Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
“Lawmakers in Washington debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions,” said Jamal Brown, TikTok spokesperson. “We look forward to welcoming our creators to our nation’s capital, helping them make their voices heard, and continuing to drive meaningful impact in their lives and their communities.”