FBI Says China Could Use TikTok For 'Influence Operations' Against Americans

Zinger Key Points
  • TikTok facing an increasing amount of pressure over data and privacy concerns in U.S.
  • The platform has an estimated 80 million active monthly users in the U.S.

The FBI has raised concerns about the China-based video-sharing app TikTok saying it poses a national security threat. 

FBI Director Chris Wray on Friday warned that the social media app could be used for espionage operations in the U.S., the AP reported

Speaking at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Wray said he is worried about how TikTok functions and how China controls the content offerings.  

The app's algorithm recommendations enable China to "manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations," Wray said. 

He added that China could collect users' data for traditional espionage operations, the AP reported.

Also Read: YouTube, TikTok Scored Over Facebook In Tackling Politically Violent Content, Study Says

TikTok, which ByteDance owns, has close to 1 billion active users spread across 154 countries. That includes an estimated 80 million active monthly users in the U.S.

"All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn't share our values and that has a mission that's very much at odds with what's in the best interests of the United States," Wray said. 

Wray suggested it's an issue to be considered by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. "Whether or not there is something that could adequately address those concerns is a product of much discussion within the interagency," Bloomberg quoted Wray saying. 

TikTok has been facing backlash from U.S. regulators, and some congressional leaders, like Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), are calling for a ban on the platform. 

In 2020, the Trump administration threatened to ban the app within the U.S., and ordered ByteDance to sell or spin off its U.S. TikTok business. The Biden Administration dropped that order and announced it would be conducting its own review.

Earlier this year, the FCC asked Alphabet Inc GOOGL, Google, and Apple Inc AAPL to ban TikTok from its Google Play Store and iOS App Store, respectively

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