Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has gone viral on TikTok after posting her first video, in which she addressed concerns about a potential TikTok ban.
Speaking to the more than 150 million US citizens who use TikTok, the New York lawmaker aimed to advocate for the social media app by laying out the arguments for and against a ban.
“Do I believe TikTok should be banned? No,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said upfront in her video posted on Saturday.
Last week, Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, testified before members of the House Committee for Energy and Commerce regarding possible Chinese surveillance of US citizens through data harvesting on TikTok, as well as concerns surrounding children’s safety while using the app.
Mr Chew faced tough questions from members of Congress that left TikTok users worried about the future of the app, as it seems a future ban is becoming more likely.
But Ms Ocasio-Cortez described Congress’ potential legislation as “putting the cart before the horse,” saying she doesn’t believes there is enough evidence to enact an all-out ban.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez is known for her adept use of social media to communicate with constituents and other Americans. Nearly 24 hours after posting her TikTok video, Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s video had amassed more than a million views. By Monday, her video received 3.4 million views.
“Usually, when the United States is proposing a very major move that has something to do with significant risk to national security, one of the first things that happens is that Congress receives a classified briefing,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.
“And I can tell you that Congress has not received a classified briefing around the allegations of national security risks regarding TikTok,” she added.
Banning TikTok would be the first time the United States has completely prohibitted a social media company from operating in the country. Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she believes the US should start a social media data protection bill – and start by looking at US social media companies first.
In the past, Meta co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress over allegations that the company improperly shared Facebook users’ data. Although Meta faced a penalty from the Federal Trade Commission, no formal legislation was created in the wake of the findings.
“They say because of this egregious amount of data harvesting, we should ban this app. However, that doesn’t really address the core of the issue which is the fact that major social media companies are allowed to collect troves of deeply personal data about you, that you don’t know about, without really any significant regulation whatsoever,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said in her TikTok. Commenters on TikTok agreed with Ms Ocasio-Cortez and thanked her for advocating for them.
“I am way more concerned about Meta than I am TikTok. I don’t get ads about what I talked about at lunch on TikTok,” TikTok user Margo Cady wrote.
“Thank you for being a logical voice,” user Sarah commented.
“If they ban TikTok they need to ban Facebook, [Instagram], Twitter, etc!” A TikToker wrote.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez also pointed to other solutions to protect users’ data other than a ban, like the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which provides data and privacy protection for people.
“It just doesn’t feel right to me,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.