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 with U.S. and Chinese flags

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

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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