TikTok CEO faces grilling from Congress

STORY: TikTok’s CEO in the hot seat Thursday.

Shou Zi Chew faced hours of tough questions from U.S. lawmakers at a Congressional hearing who are convinced the Chinese-owned short video app should be barred for being a potential national security threat to the United States.

Committee chair Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers:

"TikTok collects nearly every data point imaginable - from people's location to what they type and copy, who they talk to, to biometric data and more.”

"We do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values - values for freedom, human rights and innovation. TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation.”

TikTok says it has more than 150 million American users and has faced sharp accusations that it’s its U.S. user data would be shared with the Chinese government and that it fails to adequately protect children from harm.

Chew began his testimony by highlighting his Singaporean roots and tried to show the company is independent from the Chinese government China.

"We do not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese government,"

"it is our commitment to this committee and all our users that we will keep it free from any manipulation by any government."

Chew’s testimony capped a week of actions by the Chinese company aimed at convincing Americans and their lawmakers that the app creates economic value and supports free speech amid growing calls to ban it.

Several members of the committee also pressed Chew about their concerns about the lack of content moderation on the platform including Republican representative Bob Latta who discussed the death of a girl who took part in a choking challenge she found out about on the app.

"Unfortunately, this is one of the many devastating examples of children losing their lives because of content promoted by TikTok."

"Congressman, as a father myself, when I hear about the tragic deaths of people, it's heartbreaking."

"Do you find that good-faith moderation?"

"Well Congressman, Section 230 is a very complex issue."

"Yes or no?"

"We are very focused on safety. And all these dangers..."

I’m going to take as a “no”

TikTok says it rigorously screens content that could harm children and has spent more than 1-point-5 billion dollars on a security project to story store TikTok’s U.S. user data and keep it away from others.

Last week the company said that President Joe Biden’s administration demanded TIkTok’s Chinese owners divest their stakes in the app or face a potential ban. China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday that forcing a sale of TikTok would seriously damage the confidence of investors around the world when it comes to investing in the U.S. and that China would oppose it.