You may have seen some brief, funny, videos from TikTok posted on social media. It functions similarly to how Vine used to. While most of us don’t give much consideration to what TikTok may be doing other than providing a moment of amusement, two U.S. Senators are questioning if TikTok may be dangerous.
The Washington Post reported that two senior members of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Shumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have asked U.S. intelligence officials to determine whether the Chinese-owned social-networking app TikTok poses “national security risks”.
The two senators sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire about TikTok. They questioned TikTok’s data-collection practices and whether the app could be used by the Chinese-owned social-networking app to limit what U.S. users could see. The Senators ask the Intelligence Community to conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief congress on these findings.
In response, TikTok posted a statement in which they attempt to “set the record straight on some specific issues.” Here are some key points from TikTok’s statement:
We store all TikTok US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law. Further, we have a dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices.
TikTok states that it does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China. TikTok says it has never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and that they would not do so if asked. Their U.S. moderation team, which is led out of California, review content adherence to U.S. policies. TikTok states: We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government.
It is up to individual people whether or not they trust TikTok’s statement. The fact that two U.S. Senators, (one Democratic and one Republican) think something may be up makes me feel very unsure about TikTok.