“‘To ban TikTok is to put a Band-Aid on maybe a small scab versus what’s happening in the whole social media landscape.’ ”
That was Rep. Jamaal Bowman speaking on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation on Sunday, just days after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before House lawmakers about data privacy concerns tied to the popular video-sharing app.
“We need to take a step back,” he continued. “And if we really want to really analyze social media, the harms the happen on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, I can argue, are far worse than what TikTok has presented.”
Concerns that data from TikTok’s 150 million American users could be shared with the Chinese government are driving bills in Congress that could end up banning the app, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.
The Biden administration reportedly has told TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their stakes in the popular video-sharing app or face a ban in the U.S. And the administration also has said it supports legislation from Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota that could result in a ban.
Read more: TikTok CEO criticized by Democrats and Republicans at hearing, as bill that could ban app picks up more supporters
And: Why Thursday’s House hearing on TikTok was different than previous tech beatdowns
Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Sunday that the House will be moving forward with a TikTok ban, accusing the app of giving China access to users’ data, including that of Americans.
But Bowman pushed for lawmakers to focus on a broader security package that would protect data and privacy on all social media platforms. He accused Republicans of “fear-mongering tactics to display themselves as strong lawmakers” — such as being tough on China with TikTok. And he said he was “disappointed that some Democratic lawmakers are responding to them and acquiescing to this rhetoric.”
Opinion: Instead of banning TikTok, Congress should do its actual job
“We need a national data privacy piece of legislation,” Bowman said. “And that’s we should be focused on, not scapegoating TikTok.”