TikTok CEO meets US Congress in bid to diffuse political hostility

by | Mar 23, 2023 | News

ByteDance-owned social media platform TikTok has launched a charm offensive to try and distance itself from accusations that it is a clandestine espionage tool for China.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before the US Congress in Washington DC on Thursday and faced hours of tough questioning. During the session he said: “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country.”

In a bid to head off punitive action by US lawmakers, he said the company would protect US user data by storing information on servers owned by Oracle.

Ahead of Shou Zi Chew’s Congressional appearance, an army of TikTok influencers descended on the city to lobby in support of the wildly-popular platform. An ad campaign has also been running in the US political press and on DC billboards.

Alongside its political offensive, this week also saw the platform unveil a digital-first documentary series entitled TikTok Sparks Good, which celebrates “the incredible true stories of everyday Americans on TikTok.”

The docuseries takes the form of 60-second episodes “that celebrate inspirational creator successes that start on TikTok, and are a catalyst for real world impact off the platform”. First up is the story of Spencer Russell, who quit his 9-5 job to start a platform of online courses that helps parents and carers teach their toddlers to read.

New stories will be unveiled over the next six weeks on impact.tiktok.com/stories and on @TikTok. Other upcoming subjects include Jessie Whittington, a school bus driver by day, and soap maker by night; and Jon Lynch, who shares financial tips and resources with members of the military and veterans.

TellyCast content distribution

Sign up for The Drop newsletter to get news and insights direct to your inbox.