TikTok ‘too integral’ to Americans to sell or shut down, CEO says

Chinese social media video application TIkTok is under pressure from the Biden administration to dilute ownership or face a possible ban in the United States, a move that would hurt American business owners and internet users, the company’s CEO says.

As reported by TimCast, Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, will argue to federal officials that the platform is too integral to the fabric of American internet users to break up.

“Almost half of the U.S.” uses TikiTok, the CEO said in a video, saying users “connect, to create, to share, to learn or just to have some fun.”

Chew also asked viewers what they “want [their] elected representative to know about [what they] love about TikTok.”

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The site has 150 million monthly American users, with an estimated 92% of those users over the age of 18. The CEO estimates that 5 million small- and medium-sized businesses use the platform to promote themselves and rely on it as a generator of leads or income.

Chew also argued that TikTok employs 7,000 employees in the United States, with a statement from the company explaining how important the platform is for “educating” children.

“TikTok creators are small business owners trying to make a living and put food on their tables, teachers educating the next generation of leaders, and everyday innovators who represent the breadth of America,” TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement to NBC News.

“Lawmakers in Washington debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions,” he continued.

TikTok allows for monetization by allowing creators to charge anywhere between $1 and $190 for videos up to 20 minutes long, which would otherwise be locked from view.

While TikTok denies that it collects data from users, researchers have been saying since its inception that the app has the ability to collect keystrokes, meaning recording exactly what the phone user types. Also, the Chinese app allegedly is able to track user activity on outside websites when a link is clicked in the in-app browser.

TikTok can “extract information from the user’s external browsing sessions, which some users find overreaching,” a software engineer told the New York Times in 2022.

The Chinese company does not believe that divestment would change anything, even if it did collect data: “If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem. A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” the spokesperson added.

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