- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Seven Republican senators wrote to the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to determine whether China is using TikTok to interfere in the 2020 election. TikTok says nobody needs to worry.

Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rick Scott of Florida and Thom Tillis of North Carolina want the federal government to determine whether the Chinese-owned TikTok is enabling Chinese government influence operations and censorship of U.S. political content.

TikTok has become a popular forum for Americans-particularly younger Americans-to engage in political conversations,” the senators wrote on Tuesday. “We are greatly concerned that the [Chinese Communist Party] could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate these conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes.”

The company said it was “taking cues” from its peers’ actions during the last presidential election to safeguard its app and noted that, “TikTok isn’t the go-to app to follow political news or candidates.”

TikTok already has a strict policy against disinformation, and we don’t accept political ads,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email. “Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team in California and aren’t influenced by any foreign government.”

TikTok Vice President Michael Beckerman also wrote to House lawmakers gathered for an antitrust hearing on Wednesday with Big Tech leaders to tell them that TikTok, “never provided any U.S. user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

While TikTok was not called to testify, leaders from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook will testify at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked on Wednesday by reporters about potential action against TikTok, President Trump reiterated that his administration was reviewing its options. He has previously said he is considering a ban of the platform in the U.S.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin added that he is doing a review and planned to make a recommendation to the president later this week.

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