Even more than usual, all eyes are on TikTok today

The app’s years-long national security drama with the US government is coming to a head.

TikTok’s fate will perhaps, quite fittingly, be decided by a choreographed dance.

TikTok with U.S. and Chinese flags

In prepared testimony before Congress today, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew aims to assure US lawmakers the app is safe from Chinese government influence.

Chew — and the 150m+ Americans who use the social video app — will soon learn if those assurances are enough to stop the US government’s continued pursuit of a ban.

Everyone is in a pickle here

Per The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration has so far stayed firm on its request: Chinese parent ByteDance must sell their TikTok shares or risk banishment.

Negotiations have spanned two administrations. There’s bipartisan unity around fears that ByteDance would cede user data to Chinese authorities.

  • Chew refutes this, assuring feds his team operates independently — and within global privacy laws. His testimony cites “Project Texas,” the app’s US data firewall initiative, eight times.

Both sides are digging in: TikTok has expanded public outreach this week. More members of Congress say they back legislation that would allow Biden to ban the app.

  • This isn’t just a US thing — Dutch officials just joined British and EU leadership in pulling the app from government employees’ work phones.

TikTok’s content is fleeting — its repercussions are not

A ban may damage politicians’ standing with TikTok’s younger fanbase, a group that already turns out to vote in small numbers.

  • Only 27% of Americans under 30 voted in the last midterms (actually a relatively high mark).
  • Further complicating things, per WSJ, political parties have invested in reaching younger voters using — you guessed it — TikTok.
  • Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo on a potential ban: “The politician in me thinks you’re going to literally lose every voter under 35, forever.”

The financial ramifications are significant as well. TikTok is central to the $100B creator economy, per Forbes.

  • Insider Intelligence data projects TikTok’s ad revenue will pass $11B by next year. (That would top Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter.)
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Topics: Tiktok

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