TikTok CEO appeals to US customers forward of Home testimony

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew addressed users of the app directly in a video posted on the platform Tuesday ahead of a heated barbecue expected in the US House Energy and Trade Committee this week.

Chew, who was filming from Washington, DC, highlighted the large number of TikTok users, small and medium-sized businesses and his own US-based employees who rely on the company.

The news could be a preview of his appeal to lawmakers on Thursday, where he will face questions about his Chinese parent company ByteDance and the Chinese government’s ability to access US user information collected by the app.

TikTok says it has been working to put in place a risk mitigation plan to ensure US data does not end up in the hands of a foreign adversary via its app. The company has stated that US user data is already being stored outside of China.

But many lawmakers and intelligence officials don’t seem convinced the information can be safe while TikTok is owned by a Chinese company. TikTok said last week that the US Committee on Foreign Investments, which reviews the risks related to the app, is urging ByteDance to sell its stake or face a ban.

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Chew revealed in the video that TikTok has more than 150 million monthly active users, or MAUs, in the US, which represents massive growth since August 2020, when it first said it has about 100 million MAUs in the country. This number includes 5 million businesses using the app to reach their customers, most of which are small or medium-sized businesses. He also said TikTok has 7,000 employees in the US.

“This comes at a pivotal moment for us,” Chew said, citing lawmakers’ threats of a TikTok ban. “That could take TikTok away from all 150 million of you.”

Chew then directly appealed to users to share in the comments what their representatives would like them to know about why they love TikTok.

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