Days before TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, GOP committee aides are highlighting several talking points they suggest the company may use to defend itself against criticism regarding the app.
The aides said to expect the CEO to focus on “Project Texas,” which is a plan designed by the company to address security concerns by routing U.S. user traffic through Oracle’s domestic cloud servers.
The aides argued in a call Monday that the project is “purely marketing,” adding it’s unclear if the deal “will ever be reached.”
They also highlighted stories they say TikTok is unlikely to bring up at the hearing, including allegations of sexual abuse targeting minors on the platform, children who died after attempting to TikTok challenges and teenagers who died of fentanyl overdoses.
“These are all problems and major concerns that the committee has raised…and we have yet to receive adequate answers for how it plans to address the issues and keep children safe,” one aide said.
The aide said Chew is also expected to argue against banning the app because of its popularity.
“They’ve clearly recognized that they can’t convince the Biden administration, the various national security agencies or Congress that TikTok is not an immediate threat to American interests and national security,” the aide said.
“So instead they’re pivoting to attempt to use the court of public opinion and TikTok’s popularity with younger generations to try to make it politically toxic to ban the app.”
The Biden administration has threatened to ban the app in the U.S. if ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, does not sell its stake to an American company.
The Hill has reached out to TikTok for comment.