TikTok is “digital fentanyl” designed to “get into our kids’ heads,” and its CEO’s attempt to defend it in a congressional hearing Thursday was a “disaster,” says Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.
“It’s been a disaster – total disaster – for the TikTok CEO,” Hawley told The Heartlander in an interview, “because we’re seeing the truth, which is that the Chinese Communist Party has incredible influence over TikTok. It is a back door into Americans’ private lives and personal data for Beijing. And for those reasons we need to ban it.”
Hawley made the digital fentanyl accusation to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Thursday night.
In January Hawley introduced the “No TikTok on United States Devices Act,” which would direct the president to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to “block and prohibit transactions with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.” President Biden previously signed Hawley’s bill in December banning the social media app on federal government devices.
Still, Hawley says he had five questions he would’ve asked TikTok CEO Shou Chew, who was grilled Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee:
- How many CCP members does ByteDance/TikTok employ, and how many have access to American data?
- Does TikTok suppress content at the behest of the CCP?
- Why does TikTok harvest so much data, such as keystroke patterns, from user devices?
- Why is TikTok now infiltrating state government websites?
- Will TikTok agree to sever all ties to Beijing?
Asked by The Heartlander if the American news media should be asking such questions, rather than a U.S. senator, he said:
“Yeah, they’re not. What’s happened is TikTok’s gone out and hired a Democrat PR firm, one that was founded by a bunch of Democrats – Joe Biden supporters and people who worked for Joe Biden.
“So they went out and hired this Democrat firm and, oh my gosh, all of a sudden the media is less interested in TikTok. All of a sudden they’re reading TikTok talking points. Literally. Turn on CNN. You will hear the hosts reading off of TikTok Press releases, but acting as if it’s fact.”
Journalists would seem to have a stake in the matter: Reports indicate the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating TikTok’s owner, Chinese company ByteDance, for allegedly spying on American journalists with the app.
Hawley told Ingraham he wants to hear from Chew how many Chinese Communist Party members have access to American TikTok users’ data – though he said it’s already clear.
“We know the answer to that, Laura, because whistleblowers have come forward to my office and other offices and said the answer is, virtually unlimited numbers,” he said.
“If you’ve got TikTok on your phone, China can track your location, they can track your keystrokes, they can read your phone messages, your contact list – all of this stuff. It is not designed to make our lives better. It is designed to disrupt. It is designed to get into our kids’ heads.”