Sen. Marco Rubio asked the U.S. government to open an investigation into TikTok, the wildly popular, Chinese-owned social media app, out of concern that the company is “censoring content” around the world to satisfy Beijing’s leaders. Rubio requested a broad investigation into the company from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which oversees foreign acquisitions for national security concerns. “Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team and are not influenced by any foreign government,” a TikTok spokesperson told.
“The Chinese government does not request that TikTok censor content, and would not have jurisdiction regardless, as TikTok does not operate there.”CFIUS immediately respond to a request for comment. CFIUS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2017, ByteDance, the parent company to TikTok, acquired the popular lip-syncing video app, Musical.ly. TikTok had a growing user base outside of the United States, but ByteDance was able to purchase a sizable American audience through its acquisition of Musical.ly. The two video apps merged together, totaling around 1 billion downloads across the world.
In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said: “TikTok US is localized, adheres to US laws, and stores all US user data in the US. Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team and are not influenced by any foreign government. The Chinese government does not request that TikTok censor content, and would not have jurisdiction regardless, as TikTok does not operate there.”The letter comes as the relationship between China and U.S. corporations is under a microscope. Rubio’s call for a review follows a week of retaliation from American fans and consumers toward US-based organizations and companies like the National Basketball Association and game developer Blizzard. Over the weekend, a professional Hearthstone player voiced support for the Hong Kong protests in a post-game interview and Blizzard banned him from tournaments for an entire year. “Attempts by China to leverage market access into self-censorship by U.S. companies should also be treated as trade violations that are subject to retaliation,” he wrote in his blog Stratechery. “Make no mistake, what happened to the NBA this weekend is nothing new: similar pressure has befallen multiple U.S. companies, often about content that is outside of China’s borders.”