Rubio asks US to investigate China-based TikTok for censorship

CNBC Technology 2 months ago

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will ask U.S. authorities to investigate the 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly by TikTok, accusing the China-based app of censorship.

Rubio announced his plans in a tweet on Wednesday, saying he would ask the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to look into the deal.

"Ample & growing evidence exists that TikTok's platform for western markets, including the U.S., are censoring content in line with #China's communist government directives," Rubio wrote. In another tweet, he said he's already asked the Trump administration "to fully enforce anti-boycott laws that prohibit any U.S. person — including U.S. subsidiaries of Chinese companies from complying with foreign boycotts seeking to coerce U.S. companies to conform with #China's government views."

The statement comes as the relationship between China and U.S. corporations is under a microscope. The National Basketball Association became embroiled in an international dispute after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted a message in support of anti-Chinese government protests in Hong Kong over the weekend. While the NBA initially released a statement saying it had "great respect for the history and culture of China," commissioner Adam Silver later said the NBA is not in the place to "adjudicate" between different viewpoints.

As of Wednesday, 11 of 13 Chinese businesses listed as official partners on the NBA China website have distanced themselves from the NBA, CNBC reported.

TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular social media apps worldwide, especially among Gen Z users. The app, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, features user-generated videos set to a variety of songs accessible through the app. Unlike other popular social media apps like Facebook-owned Instagram, TikTok's feed of videos is not based on users following specific accounts, but rather relies more heavily on its algorithm to learn user interests.

The app was molded from ByteDance's 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app developed in China that also had a large following in the U.S. At the time, TechCrunch reported that the deal was worth up to $1 billion. ByteDance ultimately folded Musical.ly's brand into TikTok to reflect its wider range of content.

TikTok is not the only Chinese app that has gained traction among U.S. users. Apps developed by Chinese companies or those with large Chinese investors brought in revenues of $674.8 million in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2019, according to data previously compiled by Sensor Tower for CNBC. "PUBG Mobile" and "Clash of Clans," two games made respectively by Chinese company Tencent and one of its subsdiaries, have also gained a large U.S. following.

TikTok recently announced it would not allow paid political ads on its platform, saying it did not fit into its overall experience. A U.S. investigation would add to government scrutiny from the U.K. which launched an investigation into whether TIkTok violated Europe's General Data Protection Regulation.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Business Insider › Entertainment › 2 months ago
Marco Rubio, the US senator from Florida, has asked the US government to investigate TikTok, the globally popular short-form video app owned by a Chinese company. Rubio wrote on Twitter that there's "ample and growing evidence" that TikTok censors...
Breitbart › Technology › 2 months ago
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has called for a national security panel to review TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co's purchase of lip-syncing app Musical.ly over fears that the Chinese government is using TikTok to censor political content.
Washington Post › Technology › 2 months ago
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that he would ask the U.S. government to open an investigation into TikTok, the widely popular, Chinese-owned social media app, out of concern that the company is "censoring content" to satisfy Beijing's leaders.
Business Insider › 2 weeks ago
TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users and is dominating the App Store. TikTok lets users easily share short funny clips which can go viral really easily. But TikTok has been criticized by US senators for censorship, privacy, and child safety...
Business Insider › Politics › 1 month ago
Senators Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio have asked the US government to investigate TikTok about ties to China. On Tuesday, the US Senate is holding a hearing on "How Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China, and Other Bad...
The Wall Street Journal › Technology › 2 months ago
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is calling for a national-security review of the 2017 deal that enabled the Chinese owner of video-sharing app TikTok to expand its reach in the U.S., saying the platform’s moderators are censoring content to appease Beijing.
Reuters › Technology › 2 months ago
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday said he will ask the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review TikTok owner Beijing Bytedance Technology Co's acquisition of Musical.ly.
Breitbart › Technology › 1 month ago
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently advised parents to check if their children are using the extremely popular social media app TikTok, warning that the app is Chinese-owned and sends the user data of their children back to the communist country.
Breitbart › Politics › 1 month ago
Josh Hawley slammed TikTok for bowing to pressure from its parent company ByteDance, calling it "censorship from Beijing."
The New York Times › Finance › 2 months ago
Senator Marco Rubio on Wednesday asked a U.S. national security panel to review TikTok owner Beijing ByteDance Technology Co's acquisition of Musical.ly, saying TikTok is used by the Chinese government to censor politically sensitive content.
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