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The countdown is over: US opens national security investigation into TikTok

TikTok is owned by a company called ByteDance, which is based out of Beijing

SHARE The countdown is over: US opens national security investigation into TikTok
In this Feb. 28, 2018 photo, Matty Nev Luby holds her phone and logs into the lip-sync smartphone app Musical.ly, in Wethersfield, Conn. Teens and young adults say cyberbullying is a serious problem for people their age, but most don’t think they’ll be th

In this Feb. 28, 2018, photo, Matty Nev Luby holds her phone and logs into the lip-sync smartphone app Musical.ly, in Wethersfield, Conn. Teens and young adults say cyberbullying is a serious problem for people their age, but most don’t think they’ll be targeted.

Jessica Hill

The United States has opened an official national security investigation into TikTok, the viral social media app.

The government will specifically review the company’s owner, ByteDance, which comes from Beijing. The U.S. will look into ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, a social media app that merged with TikTok two years ago.

The merger happened two years ago. But recently, U.S. lawmakers are looking into TikTok out of concern that the company could be censoring political content. The app also raises questions about personal data, too.

The Committee on Foreign Investment has begun its review into the deal, sources told Reuters. TikTok did not check with the committee — which reviews deals by foreign companies — before it acquired Muiscal.ly, though.

The foreign investment committee is in discussion with TikTok, sources told Reuters.

TikTok released a statement to Reuters about the investigation.

“While we cannot comment on ongoing regulatory processes, TikTok has made clear that we have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the U.S. Part of that effort includes working with Congress and we are committed to doing so,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

TikTok as become a viral sensation across the United States throughout the year. The app includes 15- to 60-second videos, often centered around comedy, that instantly go viral, as I explained last week.

Last week, Sens. Chuck Schumer, Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio called for an investigation into the security risks associated with the app, CNN reports. The three senators worried the app could be used to spy on Americans or influence political decisions much in the same way Russia used Facebook to influence the 2016 presidential election.

TikTok fired back against Congress, which also accused the company of censoring pro-democracy content in Hong Kong, according to The Verge.

“At TikTok, we take these issues incredibly seriously,” the blog posts reads. “We are committed to transparency and accountability in how we support our TikTok users in the U.S. and around the world. In light of recent claims, we believe it is critical to set the record straight on some specific issues.

“We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked. Period,” the blog post read.