TikTok now has 150 million active users in the US, the CEO told Congress

If tick tock CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress Thursday that he plans to unveil new internal data that suggests so popular video sharing app is much more involved in the daily lives of Americans than anyone realizes.

TikTok currently says About 100 million people in the US use the app regularly. But when Chew testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, he will say the number has now reached 150 million, according to a senior Democratic strategist who advises TikTok.

That 50 percent jump in monthly active users in the US suggests the app has become even more entrenched in the US in the nearly three years that Washington — under two presidential administrations — has been grappling with it clean up.

Lawmakers from both parties and the White House are arguing that TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, poses a national security threat as Beijing could use it to sway US public opinion or gain access to the data for nefarious purposes of Americans to procure, such as espionage.

In December, President Joe Biden signed a spending law that banned TikTok of US government equipment. The Justice Department and FBI are currently investigating TikTok and ByteDance, including allegations that company employees Spied on journalists.

Chew’s statement comes as Washington efforts to potentially ban TikTok in the US have reached a climax. Biden is now backing a bipartisan bill that could do just that, and his administration recently told TikTok that either its Chinese owners could sell their stakes in the company or the app could face a US ban.

Its first appearance before Congress will mark TikTok’s most high-profile showdown with lawmakers yet – and the app plans to lean on users deemed “creators” to counter efforts to ban it, as well as criticism that it poses a national security threat .

Secret Service officials testify during a House Select Committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, DC (File Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Several dozen TikTok creators, including small business owners, entertainers and activists who see the app as a key to their livelihood, plan to be in Washington Wednesday before Chew’s testimony to hold a press conference and meet with lawmakers, according to a source familiar with the matter person planning.

The lobbying, first reported by The informationwill primarily make an economic argument: Banning TikTok could cause financial hardship for Americans who rely on it to generate income.

“TikTok creators are small business owners trying to make a living and put food on their table, teachers educating the next generation of leaders, and everyday innovators representing the broader Americas,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown in an explanation. “Lawmakers in Washington who are debating TikTok should hear firsthand from people whose lives would be directly affected by their decisions.”

The possible political consequences of a TikTok ban are difficult to predict. But the prospect of a ban comes as Biden is expected to start a re-election campaign in 2024, and the sheer number of TikTok users in the US suggests there may be a price to pay if he runs — what he has said he intends to do so.

This underscores how Biden’s government and political strategies collide in relation to TikTok, the president on Friday appeared in a video in the app with Irish singer Niall Horan at the St. Patrick’s Day Party at the White House.

When asked last month whether the US should ban TikTok, Biden said, “I’m not sure,” adding, “I know I don’t have it on my phone.”

The 150 million regular users in America, which Chew will cite in his testimony before Congress Thursday, do not include children under the age of 13, according to the senior Democratic strategist who advises TikTok.

But of those 150 million, about 12 million are under the age of 18 — about 8% — meaning about 138 million of voting age are regular TikTok users, the strategist said, adding that the median age of a regular TikTok user is 31 years (Some of the 12 million regular TikTok users who are under 18 will still be of voting age in 2024.)

A recently Quinnipiac poll showed that 49% of Americans supported a TikTok ban in the US, while 42% opposed it.

According to the poll, opposition to a nationwide ban is significantly higher among Americans ages 18 to 34, with 63% opposed to a ban and 33% in favor of one. Voters under the age of 35 tend to favor Democrats by a wide margin.

A breakdown in political party polling suggests a ban could hurt Democrats more: 64% of Republicans and 50% of independents support a ban, while 51% of Democrats oppose a ban.

TikTok is one of several high-stakes flashpoints in strained US-China relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a news conference last week that “the US has yet to prove that TikTok threatens its national security.”

While TikTok has been a US government target for several years, and former President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban the app in 2020 has been blocked in court, it is only recently that the idea has gained widespread momentum in Washington.

China passed legislation in 2020, following Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok, adding to the government’s list of non-exportable technologies, meaning the algorithms used by TikTok could be considered taboo and Beijing could refuse any sale.

TikTok has attempted to address the US government’s national security concerns by proposing that an American company be hired to store the data of people in the US who use the app.

Chew said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week that the Biden administration’s call for Chinese stakeholders on TikTok to divest would not address concerns US officials have expressed.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

Source : news.yahoo.com

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