TikTok’s chief is set to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week as the company seeks to address concerns that it poses privacy and security risks over its ties to the Chinese government.
Alex Zhu is scheduled to meet with Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTikTok’s leader to meet with lawmakers next week Overnight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East MORE (R-Tenn.) next week, Blackburn’s office confirmed to The Hill.
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Zhu also requested to meet with Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonTikTok’s leader to meet with lawmakers next week Hillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in ‘deceptive practices’ | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon Bipartisan senators call on FERC to protect against Huawei threats MORE (R-Ark.), a foreign policy hawk and fierce China critic, but his office said it was unable to schedule it. Cotton’s aides and TikTok held staff level meetings earlier this week.
People familiar with the matter told The Washington Post Thursday that Zhu is set to meet with several other lawmakers ,as well. Zhu has requested meetings with Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTikTok’s leader to meet with lawmakers next week Overnight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trade deal talks expand as Congress debates tech legal shield MORE (R-Mo.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTikTok’s leader to meet with lawmakers next week GOP senators unveil bill to expand ‘opportunity zone’ reporting requirements Three dead, several injured in Pensacola naval station shooting MORE (R-Fla.), two other prominent critics of Beijing, according to The Post.
The video app has enjoyed skyrocketing popularity, having been downloaded more than 110 million times in the U.S., though it faces intense scrutiny from Capitol Hill over its ownership. TikTok was bought and repackaged by Chinese firm ByteDance and is reportedly facing a federal review over national security concerns.
While the app has sought to bolster its credibility in light of the concerns, with lawmakers floating legislation to crack down on its data practices, it could face an uphill battle to earn trust in Washington.
“It’s difficult to see a way forward for TikTok without a complete separation from its Beijing-based owner,” Cotton said in a statement to The Post.
Suspicions that TikTok was censoring content on its platform spiked last month after an account belonging to a 17-year-old high school student was briefly suspended after she posted a viral video addressing human rights abuses against China’s minority Muslim population.
Reports have also surfaced citing TikTok employees saying that the app’s content-moderation decisions were made by China-based teams that demoted or removed content touching on U.S. social and political topics.
The skepticism of TikTok’s independence from Beijing further snowballed last month after the app’s leaders skipped a congressional hearing over its ties to China.
Its parent company also faces an investigation by an arm of the federal government that reviews foreign business deals for national-security concerns, The Post reported.
Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed to his report.