Hinson says TikTok’s influence is a national security issue

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed a bill Wednesday calling on the video app TikTok to divest itself from the Chinese company ByteDance to remain available in the U.S.

Iowa Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Marion, said prior to the vote on the bill that ByteDance is beholding to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “I believe the nature of the threat is really threefold. It’s the data collection, that’s the most overt, of millions of users to advance China’s intelligence and influence operations. Its covert manipulation of their algorithm to not only sow divisiveness and discord in our society. But it’s also do things like promote pro Hamas content or videos downplaying 9-1,” Hinson said.

She said their point was proved last week after the bill was introduced and TikTok went into panic mode. “They lied to their users saying Congress was going to ban TiTok, and then prompted kids to call their representatives,” Hinson said. “They manipulated and they used our kids. It’s so unacceptable, and TikTok’s disregard for kids mental health was really on full display. ”

Hinson said that led to a lot of phone calls from people who were ticked off about TikTok. “I can tell you when I was picking up phones it was one after the after the other after the other so we were getting a barrage of phone calls,” she said.

Hinson said TikTok could send out much worse messages to influence its users. “Imagine if TikTok took the same tactic ahead of our elections. What if on election day, TikTok sends out an alert saying our elections are canceled or whatever message the C-C-P wanted them to disseminate,” Hinson said. Hinson said this is a national security issue and if TikTok does not cut ties from the CCP, it should not be able to operate in the U.S.

The bill passed the House on a 352-65 vote, but its future in the Senate is unsure.