(LibertySociety.com) – Prior to the CEO of TikTok, Shou Chew, testifying in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023, lobbyists from the company invited influencers to participate in a protest outside of the Capitol. They were joined by some Democrats, including Representatives Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., Robert Garcia, D-Calif., and Marc Pocan, D-Wis., with Bowman labeling the potential ban as a racist move by Congress.
Notably, Representative Bowman is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus whose foundation received $150,000 from ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, back in December 2022. Rep. Robert Garcia is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whose foundation also received the same amount of money from ByteDance at the same time. Both of the donations were reported to have been for honoring members of the caucuses. TikTok has been the subject of increasing scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans after being warned by the FBI of the potential manipulations of data and foreign influence operations by the CCP on the app.
Rep. Bowman frequently uses TikTok, and vigorously defended the company while speaking at the protest outside of the Capitol. He called out American social media companies that he believes have done more damage to the United States than TikTok has, slamming the potential ban by claiming xenophobia against China.
One report claimed that the TikTok influencers that protested outside the Capitol and attended the House hearing had their trip expenses covered by the company in exchange for sharing their stories and meeting with lawmakers. After the hearing, lawmakers reported that they were left with more questions than answers and are not confident that they received the transparency they were looking for from the TikTok CEO. People on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for a ban against TikTok due to concerns about national security.
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