US Republicans worry China might use TikTok to meddle in election

TikTok US

A group of Republican US Senators on Tuesday frees up pressure on TikTok, asking the Trump government to assess the danger the popular Chinese-owned video sharing app might meddle in US elections.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton along with other lawmakers cited alleged censorship by TikTok of sensitive articles, including a video critical of China’s treatment of Uighur minorities, in addition to alleged attempts by Beijing to manipulate political talks on social media apps.

A spokesperson for the company said that TikTok, although not a”go-to” for political news, was”proactively investing to safeguard our app,” and taking cues from the expertise of peers during the last election.

“TikTok already has a strict policy against disinformation, and we don’t accept political ads,” the person said, including that moderation and content policies are led by a California-based group and aren’t”influenced by any foreign government.”

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The FBI and DHS didn’t respond to requests for comment while an ODNI official confirmed receipt of this letter and stated “we will respond accordingly.”

The lawmakers, combined with Republicans Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst Thom Tilis, Kevin Cramer and Rick Scott, asked the officials to say whether Beijing could reevaluate particular political views and conduct influence operations throughout the popular program, which is owned by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co..

POTENTIAL SANCTIONS?

“If evidence emerges of CCP electoral interference via TikTok, would ByteDance be eligible for sanctions?” Under an executive order on electoral influence, the lawmakers asked.

TikTok is in the crosshairs of the Trump government as US-China ties have soured over the pandemic and Beijing’s movement to curb independence in Hong Kong. Last month, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said activity was imminent to tackle national security risks posed by TikTok.

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Trump’s poll numbers have been sagging as he prepares to confront Democrat Joe Biden in the November election. In 2019, special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report found cases of Russian infantry which gained the Trump campaign from the 2016 election.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Alexandra Alper. Editing by David Gregorio.

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