Ahead of his testimony before Congress on Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew announced in a TikTok video that the video app now has more than 150 million users in the U.S. — up from 100 million in 2020. He also mentioned that TikTok hosts more than 5 million businesses in the country.
Amid talks of banning the ByteDance-owned app over national security concerns as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to rise, Chew touted these numbers to demonstrate how the app is an important part of U.S. culture.
“That’s almost half of the U.S. coming to TikTok to connect, to share, to learn or just have some fun,” he said in the video.
The exec additionally used the video to ask TikTok users to come to the app’s defense by letting their elected representatives know what they love about the app. The company could use these comments as a testimony to prove TikTok’s popularity.
“I’ll be testifying before Congress later this week to share all that we’re doing to protect Americans using the app,” Chew said.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will grill the app’s CEO about the app’s privacy practices and how it protects children.
“Americans deserve to know the extent to which their privacy is jeopardized and their data is manipulated by ByteDance-owned TikTok’s relationship with China. What’s worse, we know Big Tech companies, like TikTok, use harmful algorithms to exploit children for profit and expose them to dangerous content online. We need to know what actions the company is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms,” the Committee said in a press release issued last week.
Earlier this month, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted in favor of a bill that could give the Biden government power to ban the app. Meanwhile, reports indicate that the authorities are putting pressure on ByteDance to sell TikTok or face an embargo as its links with China have them concerned about user data being passed on to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Recently, the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice also began investigations into TikTok after some employees allegedly used the app to spy on U.S. journalists.
TikTok has spent nearly $1.5 billion on a charm offensive with steps that included an independent audit by Oracle and invitations to press and regulators to visit its newly constructed Transparency Center in LA. The company also initiated “Project Texas,” which aims to address concerns from lawmakers and show that the U.S. business is transparent and separate from China-based operations.
In the past few weeks, the U.K., the EU, Canada and New Zealand have all banned TikTok on different kinds of official government devices, similar to bans in the U.S.
Apart from this, TikTok announced an overhaul of its community guidelines today with new policies around the use of AI in content and climate misinformation. The new rules state that accounts must clearly disclose the use of AI in videos.