Breakingviews: TikTok’s trust-me tour will need at least 50 stops

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022.
TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters Breakingviews) - TikTok wants a fair shake. The social media company run by Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew will appear in front of a U.S. House of Representatives committee in March. But Chew, a Harvard University alumnus, will have to travel far beyond Washington to make America comfortable.

Certainly, convincing U.S. lawmakers that the platform doesn’t spy on American users is a priority. As of last June, all TikTok’s data was routed through U.S.-based Oracle (ORCL.N). But late last year, Chinese parent company ByteDance found that some employees had improperly accessed it to snoop on journalists. That’s likely to take up considerable airtime when Chew faces the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

But the short-video app also faces the prospect of death by 50 cuts, as individual states weigh their own approaches. Nearly half of the U.S. states have banned the app on government-owned devices. Chew may also need to trot around to local leaders, from Republicans like Texas Governor Greg Abbott to Democrats like California state Senator Bill Dodd, to assure them of safety measures in place. If he’s really keen to win friends, Chew might want to make a stop on Wall Street to discuss a public offering while he’s at it. (By Lauren Silva Laughlin)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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