TikTok CEO says ‘tough conversations’ needed on future of platform

A visitor passes the TikTok exhibition stands
AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File
FILE – A visitor passes the TikTok exhibition stands at the Gamescom computer gaming fair in Cologne, Germany, Aug. 25, 2022.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a new interview that “tough conversations” are needed on the future of the platform amid mounting efforts to ban the platform in the U.S. due to security concerns. 

In an interview with The Washington Post published Wednesday, Chew said that he doesn’t take talk of banning the platform “very lightly,” saying it will be a “real shame” if the more than 100 million U.S. users of TikTok are cut off.

“We have to have tough conversations on: Who is using it now? What kind of value does it bring to them? What does it mean if we just, like, rip it out of their hands?” Chew told the Post. “I don’t take this conversation of ‘let’s just ban TikTok’ very lightly. … I don’t think it’s a trivial question. I don’t think it should be something that’s decided, you know, in 280 characters.”

Chew, who formerly served as chief financial office of TikTok parent’s company ByteDance, is set to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next month. 

The committee said the hearing will focus on TikTok’s “consumer privacy and data security practices, the platforms’ impact on kids, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.”

ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, spurring concerns that its subsidiaries could be subject to Chinese efforts to obtain related user data or other information.

Chew said no such request has been made, and that he did not believe the company would need to hand over that information to the Chinese government “because U.S. user data is subject to U.S. law.”

Chew told the Post that he hoped lawmakers would see that concerns about data privacy and teenagers’ usage are industry-wide issues, and would not be resolved by banning Tik-Tik, adding that some suspicions about the platform are “misinformed” or based on “misrepresentations.”

“We understand we start from a place of trust deficit,” Chew told the Post, adding: “and that trust is not won by one move, one silver bullet, one meeting.”

Multiple state governments and Congress in recent months have barred TikTok on government devices. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) introduced legislation last week that would prohibit downloading TikTok nationally.

U.S. officials have had a rocky relationship with TikTok for years. The Trump administration made a failed attempt to implement a ban on the social media platform in 2020.

Tags ByteDance House Energy and Commerce Committee Shou Zi Chew Shou Zi Chew Tik Tok TikTok TikTok ban TikTok ban

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