TikTok CEO questioned security concerns during hearing with US lawmakers

TikTok CEO questioned security concerns during hearing with US lawmakers

TikTok CEO questioned security concerns during hearing with US lawmakers

US lawmakers at a congressional hearing on Thursday accused TikTok of spreading harmful content and inflicting ’emotional distress’ on young users, grilling the Chinese app’s CEO over the company’s outsized influence on teens.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington, kicked off the hearing with TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew, saying that within minutes of creating an account on TikTok, the content algorithm promotes content on self-harm and eating disorders, and encourages “dangerous” challenges. which can endanger children’s lives.

Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, said TikTok content “exacerbates feelings of emotional stress” in children.

Chew, in his first appearance before Congress, said that while the “vast majority” of TikTok users are over 18, the company has invested in measures to protect young people who use the app.

The hearing comes at a crucial time for TikTok, as the Biden administration faces growing pressure from lawmakers to ban the app in the country on national security grounds. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese technology company.

Lawmakers asked Chew whether U.S. user data could be accessed by the Chinese government and how it prevents harmful content from reaching young users.

Rep. Bob Latta, Republican of Ohio, speaks at the hearing of a 10-year-old girl who choked while doing a so-called ‘blackout challenge’ from videos published on the application. Latta said TikTok should not be protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a law that generally grants online platforms immunity for user-generated content.

Chew later said during the hearing that content such as dangerous challenges was banned on TikTok.

TikTok recently rolled out more parental control tools, and earlier this month it said it was in the early stages of developing a feature that would allow parents to block their teens from viewing videos. containing certain words or hashtags.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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