As a potential TikTok ban looms, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) gave her response in a unique way: by posting her first video on the social media platform.
“This is not only my first TikTok, but it is a TikTok about TikTok,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her introduction, adding “Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No.”
The New York Democrat said banning the popular video-sharing app would be an “unprecedented” move.
“I think it’s important to discuss how unprecedented of a move this would be. The United States has never before banned a social media company from existence, from operating in our borders,” she said in her video. “And this is an app that has over 150 million Americans on it.
Her post comes after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on Thursday on ways his company plans to address recent security concerns raised about the social media app.
Criticisms surrounding the app and it’s Chinese-based owner ByteDance, were notably bipartisan during Chew’s testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including concerns around national security threats, data privacy, the spread of misinformation and the safety for minors.
“They say because of this egregious amount of data harvesting, we should ban this app. However, that doesn’t really address the core of the issue,” Ocasio-Cortez said in her video.
The outspoken Democrat claimed that banning TikTok wasn’t a solution, pointing to other major social media companies that also collect “troves of deeply personal data” without a user’s knowledge or significant regulation.
“In fact, the United States is one of the only developed nations in then world that has no significant data or privacy protection laws on the books,” she argued, later adding “So to me, the solution here is not to ban an individual company — but to actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no.”
“Usually when the United States is proposing a very major move, that has something to do with signifiant risk to national security, one of the first things that happens is that Congress receives a classified briefing,” she continued, claiming that it had not happened yet. “So why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a signifiant issue without being included on this at all? It just doesn’t feel right to me.”
She said if a decision to ban TikTok was that important to national security, the public deserves to know what kind of information could potentially be leaked by the platform. Ocasio-Cortez also reiterated her point that all platforms should be looked into.
“We are a government by the people and for the people,” she said, adding “I think a lot of this is putting the cart before the horse.”
“Our first priority should be in protecting your ability to exist without social media companies commodifying every single piece of data about you,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
TikTok issued updated community guidelines earlier this week which the company said will focus on improving content moderation on the platform.
Some of the key changes include updating the company’s rules on how it evaluates content created or altered by artificial intelligence technology and providing more details about the work it does to protect civic and election integrity.
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