TikTok’s CEO is going before lawmakers on Thursday and will be grilled over whether the Chinese-invented and Chinese-owned app is secure for Americans.

CEO Shou Zi Chew will go before the House and Energy Committee to try to convince U.S. authorities that one of the world’s most popular apps is safe and beneficial for Americans to use. TikTok is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance.

Biden’s push for a complete TikTok ban

President Joe Biden announced a new push to ban TikTok from use on any device in the U.S. unless the app is sold to an American company, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have supported that idea, The Washington Post reported.

Related
Biden administration threatens a TikTok ban if its Chinese owner doesn’t sell the app
Gov. Cox bans TikTok on all state-owned devices
People wearing “Ban TikTok” shorts arrive before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies to a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices and impact on children, Thursday, March 23, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. | Alex Brandon, Associated Press

The main concerns about the app lie in two areas: security and misinformation.

Government officials argue that the app can store American users’ data, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., told Fox News that “TikTok can be used as a propaganda mechanism for the Community Party of China. That, I believe is a national security concern.”

However, lawmakers have yet to offer significant evidence to back those concerns, according to the Post.

How TikTok, China responded to a possible ban

In response to the claims, TikTok sought to get a group of federal agencies together, called Project Texas, to outline a plan for “how TikTok will prevent the Chinese government from having access to U.S. user data or meddling with content recommendations,” The New York Times reported.

After Biden’s announcement about a possible TikTok ban last week, China said it would “firmly oppose” a compulsory sale of the social media app, per the Times.

More than 150 million Americans use TikTok, and many people rely on the app for their businesses, for resources and some even for income. It was the “top downloaded app in the United States in 2021 and 2022,” CNN reported.

Related
Is TikTok different in China compared to the U.S.? A social media analyst compares it to opium and spinach
Half of U.S. state governments have banned TikTok. Is it safe for your family?

Why is Rep. Jamaal Bowman defending TikTok?

One of the defenders of TikTok on Capitol Hill is Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who uses TikTok to interact with some of his constituents and has a following of about 159,000 on the app. He hosted a news conference outside the House on Wednesday, along with other TikTok influencers to defend TikTok, the Times reported.

Bowman argues that the problem lies in disinformation on social media in general, not in one specific app.

V Spehar, @underthedesknews, uses TikTok to explain the news of the day in quick clips and simple language. Spehar was among a group of TikTok influencers who were invited to the White House in 2022 to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act.

“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.