1 December 2023

Opponents of the TikTok ban in the United States demonstrate outside the United States Congress in Washington on March 23, 2023.

“Some politicians are talking about banning TikTok. This could lead to (in) deprive 150 million of you” : two days before his March 23 hearing by the US Congress, the CEO of the social network of Chinese origin, Shou Zi Chew, clearly played against Washington the many fans who exchange videos on the application throughout the whole world. ‘America.

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As early as Tuesday, March 21, he released a video to defend his platform and published his long opening remarks to Congress the next day. Waiting for the barrage of the country’s elected officials. At stake, the ban on the social network (more than a billion users worldwide), suspected of being able to transfer sensitive data on American citizens to China and to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The exercise was more of an indictment than a hearing. Shou Zi Chew, who recalled that he was a Singaporean married to an American, was asked to answer yes or no and was prevented from reacting on several occasions, in particular after the broadcast of a video calling for violence against the president of the commission hearing him. The questions, very aggressive, mixed the moderation of the platform – a subject which also applies to its American competitors – and the links of TikTok with its parent company and the Chinese Communist Party. On this point, Shou Zi Chew could not assure that there was complete separation. TikTok has become the symbol of Congress’s anti-Chinese fight.

The offensive began in August 2020, under former Republican President Donald Trump. As much as the banning of Chinese Huawei in 5G telephony was easy, because it hardly affected the general public, it quickly became apparent that it would be almost impossible to ban an application as popular as TikTok. Especially at a time when the American tech giants, starting with Facebook, were accused of all electoral manipulation.

Failure of the “Americanization” of the social network

Mr. Trump had therefore sought to “Americanize” TikTok and force the sale of its activities in the United States by its owner, ByteDance. The deadline was set for September 15, 2020. Microsoft had shown interest, but the agreement fell through when it turned out that the firm founded by Bill Gates would not have access to the software that makes TikTok so effective. Oracle and Walmart had taken over, offering to store the data and carry out the moderation of the social network, but the deal had not been concluded either.

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