10 Questions the US Congress SHOULD have asked TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew (AND let him answer!)

10 Questions the US Congress SHOULD have asked TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew (AND let him answer!)

Let me ask you this: your brand new Tesla breaks down. You push the on key and it doesn’t start and the lights on the dashboard are blinking continuously.

Who would you call for help?

  • Option 1. The Tesla Specialist who do nothing else besides rushes out to fix Tesla’s problem. They know how to diagnose issues and know what parts and software is needed to fix just about anything.
  • Option 2. A random group of people walking by who have never worked on any cars in their lifetime?

Most rational people would pick Option 1. A Specialist. You want a specialist for your car. You want a specialist if you have a health issue. You want a specialist if your house is flooded by a leaking toilet.

A specialist can get to the bottom of the issue and fix it.

So why on Earth, would you have a completely unequipped bunch of people try to unpack just how much of a security risk TikTok is?

Why not get some hardcore Security nerds who know what to look for and therefore can ask the real hard questions?

It makes zero sense.

To be very clear: TikTok is not innocent and has a lot to answer for. I have a whole video on my findings on TikTok and its data mining.

However, when you hear a grown adult asking “why do you need to know where the eyes are when you place a sunglasses filter on” I have to shake my head, not to mention “does TikTok use the home wifi”…

It’s like sending a bunch of Fortnite gamers to interview Nuclear Scientists about the energy crises in Africa and its implication on the continent’s GDP.

Minds were already made up before entering that room and this was just a Media show-and-tell reading questions off a sheet of paper with zero understanding of how all this technical stuff works.

“Yes or no – I want my kids to go to sleep at a reasonable bedtime. What does TikTok plan on doing about that?” (I am paraphrasing but at one point it seemed like we can outsource our parenting to TikTok!)

10 Questions I wished the US congress actually asked TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew (AND let him answer!)

I really wished they asked the following:

  1. Can you clarify who has access to what data and for what reason
  2. What are the processes to overseas how this data is used
  3. Does this data stay inside TikTok’s servers or does a copy gets downloaded via an API and TikTok has no control over that once it leaves its systems?
  4. How does TikTok ensure that the data isn’t abused?
  5. Can the TikTok Algrothim be enhanced/ manipulated/ directed to show specific content NOT based on the person’s likes/ interactions/ views
  6. How does TikTok moderate content on the platform? How many languages do the moderators look after?
  7. Is data anonymized when being sold to third parties?
  8. Outline exactly what data is being collected by the app – both on the app itself and from the phone and from nearby devices (if applicable) ?
  9. Does TikTok access the private messaging system on the app for any reason? Especially to content to drive content?
  10. How long is the user’s data retained and what is the process to discard that data? Can the user control that? (as you can with Google)

Was this Tiktok lack of understanding deliberate?

“Data to China” is just ONE aspect that is pushing the company to have everything on US soil and therefore make it a lot easier for US warrants to be issued to access data.

This has all the feels of not being able to get US Citizen data of an app they can’t control vs many others that they can…*cough* Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and many others….*cough*

While I find many faults with the way TikTok collects data, I also have issues with how selective “rules” are being enforced on some companies over others.

The US Congress oscillated between attacking the Industry and attacking TikTok for being part of that industry. And very selectively did or didn’t allow Shou Chew to answer based on how they wanted to answer to swing.

More Questions then:

Will government ban all Chinese-owned apps? There are loads. In fact, one of the most popular video editing software, CapCut, is owned by ByteDance (who also owns TikTok)!

Is that next as the app knows who is editing a video and how it should be edited as it could be manipulated by the CCP?!?

What about all those “Proudly American Made apps” that are built on top of various Software Development Toolkits (SDK) made by various Chinese companies –  Are they going to ban so many popular apps?

Why stop there – what about hardware?

Phones, Microwaves, Televisions, and Cameras – all have foreign parts and software.

Why stop there – what about cars? They too have Chinese components and software.

Frankly, the ONLY question that US Congress should have asked:

“Mr. Chew Sir, respectfully, here is a mountain of evidence that was gathered by various countries – not just the US – proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that TikTok is manipulating our society and providing CONFIDENTIAL information to the Chinese Government.

How do you explain this?”

That’s it.

Game over.


Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev is an award-winning tech blogger, YouTube strategist, and Podcaster. He helps brands tell their stories in an engaging way that non-techies can relate to. He also drinks way too much coffee! @Liron_Segev on Twitter