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Stupidity at the Tiktok Congressional Hearing; Tiktok Wins PR campaign!

In July 2019, the US Congress held a hearing to investigate concerns about the popular video-sharing app TikTok and its parent company ByteDance. This came after a string of threats by both the Trump and Biden administration to ban the app due to trumped up 'national security concerns'. On March 23rd 2023, at least four years since the campaign to ban the app was started, Tiktok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified on behalf of the company. Like the tech hearings before, the congressional hearing committee was filled with incompetent public servants who asked elementary questions such as, "Does [TikTok] require the use of the phone's WiFi network?"

Representative Hudson asking, "Does Tiktok use to at home Wifi network." This has become an enormously popular meme on the Internet since then.

The scene was reminiscent of a young man trying to teach a nursing home technology. For example, Congressman David Cicilline asked, "Is TikTok affiliated with music streaming service Spotify?" and Senator Josh Hawley wondered to the belabored CEO asking, "Is TikTok the same as LinkedIn?" These questions demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology and social media platforms they were investigating and calls into questions their fitness as public servants.

"Is TikTok the same as LinkedIn?"

Incompetence of its top officials reflects poorly on the U.S. government but even more glaring was the racism and xenophobia demonstrated by members of Congress. This was perhaps the most public demonstration of Asian hatred since Japanese Americans were placed into concentration camps.

Some of the lovely statements made by Congress included:

"Fentanyl is created in China" - Neal Dunn, FL

“we do not trust TikTok will ever embrace American values—values for freedom, human rights, and innovation. … Your platform should be banned.” Cathy Rodgers, WA

There was an amazing moment where Rep. Dan Crenshaw intentionally misrepresented the nationality of CEO Shou Zi Chew, “TikTok employees who live in China… which includes you, If the CCP tells ByteDance to turn over all data that TikTok has collected inside the U.S. … do they have to do so, according to Chinese law?’

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew: ‘Congressman, first, I’m Singaporean.’

CEO, Shou Zi Chew looks on as a senator pulls up a meme and submits the video to the committee as official evidence of Tiktok encouraging violence amongst its users.

Whether it was due to incompetence or xenophobic racism, Congress members repeatedly mispronounced Chew's name. Despite multiple corruptions, committee continued to childishly use all variations of Mr. Chew name except the correct one throughout the hearing. It was an elementary school bullying tactic that only further sank the reputation of the institution.

"It was an elementary school bullying tactic that only further sank the reputation of the institution."

Furthermore, some members of Congress accused Chew of having ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), despite the fact that he is a Singaporean national who previously worked for investment firm DST Global, not a Chinese entity. Congressman Tom Cotton accused TikTok of censoring content critical of the Chinese government, and asked Chew if the company had ever received requests from the Chinese government to censor content. Chew denied the accusation, saying that TikTok operates independently of any government entity.

The same senator later remarked on twitter that, "Shou Chew should be deported immediately and never again allowed to re-enter our country," in a bizarre demonstration of blatant xenophobia and racism.

Above, Cotton advocates deporting Chew despite the fact that Chew is not an American national and does not live in the United States. Cotton has received 786 likes despite having 380K views on his post.

Despite the unfair treatment of Chew during the hearing, the general public rallied around TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, with many expressing support for the app and defending its role in promoting free speech and creative expression. Chew himself became a national icon and champion of free speech overnight, with many praising his calm and professional demeanor in the face of hostile questioning.

Above, Tiktok meme of Shou Zi Chew in a romantic song

Congress lost both the battle and the war in the Tiktok hearings. Despite being heavily paid by Meta to further perpetuate anti-China sentiment, the effect was noticeably the opposite. People from all across the political spectrum from conservative Trumpers to the Liberal LGBTQ community banded together in support of Shou and mocked how disgracefully U.S. representatives acted.

The hearings hold no legal authority and are usually done to gain public support for one issue or another. In the PR game, CEO Shou Zi Chew came out on top and, in an ironic twist, even became a sex symbol on the Internet. Widespread public support for NOT banning the app has never been stronger.

Above, a recent online trend creating 'thirst traps' of Shou and protesting a potential ban of tiktok

On the governmental side, trust in members of Congress has never been lower for all sides of the political spectrum as huge conflicts of interests came to light. Congress has become mired in corruption for the world to see and its disgusting evil has reared its ugly head at those here to stop it. In one fell swoop Shou Zi Chew went from an obscure businessman to THE CEO of Tiktok, Defender of Free Speech, Sex symbol, and Great Uniter of the American People from across the political aisle.

Above, Tiktok CEO Shou Zi Chew with his wife

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