TikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week

TikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week
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TikTok’s chief is set to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week as the company seeks to address concerns that it poses privacy and security risks over its ties to the Chinese government. 

Alex Zhu is scheduled to meet with Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Commerce Department cracks down on Huawei's access to chips Senate approves bill to sanction China over Uighur rights MORE (R-Tenn.) next week, Blackburn’s office confirmed to The Hill.

Zhu also requested to meet with Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonChinese official accuses US of 'pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War' Sunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans MORE (R-Ark.), a foreign policy hawk and fierce China critic, but his office said it was unable to schedule it. Cotton’s aides and TikTok held staff level meetings earlier this week.

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People familiar with the matter told The Washington Post Thursday that Zhu is set to meet with several other lawmakers ,as well. Zhu has requested meetings with Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyChinese official accuses US of 'pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War' Trust in big government? Try civics education The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit MORE (R-Mo.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOverwhelming majority of publicly traded firms have not returned small-business loans: review GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill COVID-19 makes Trump's work with black Americans that much harder MORE (R-Fla.), two other prominent critics of Beijing, according to The Post.

The video app has enjoyed skyrocketing popularity, having been downloaded more than 110 million times in the U.S., though it faces intense scrutiny from Capitol Hill over its ownership. TikTok was bought and repackaged by Chinese firm ByteDance and is reportedly facing a federal review over national security concerns.

While the app has sought to bolster its credibility in light of the concerns, with lawmakers floating legislation to crack down on its data practices, it could face an uphill battle to earn trust in Washington.

“It’s difficult to see a way forward for TikTok without a complete separation from its Beijing-based owner,” Cotton said in a statement to The Post.

Suspicions that TikTok was censoring content on its platform spiked last month after an account belonging to a 17-year-old high school student was briefly suspended after she posted a viral video addressing human rights abuses against China’s minority Muslim population.

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Reports have also surfaced citing TikTok employees saying that the app’s content-moderation decisions were made by China-based teams that demoted or removed content touching on U.S. social and political topics.

The skepticism of TikTok’s independence from Beijing further snowballed last month after the app's leaders skipped a congressional hearing over its ties to China.

Its parent company also faces an investigation by an arm of the federal government that reviews foreign business deals for national-security concerns, The Post reported.

Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed to his report.