- On Wednesday, March For Our Lives co-founder David Hogg called for people to "#CancelTikTok" on Twitter, citing the apps Chinese ownership and censorship allegations made against the app.
- TikTok has faced scrutiny in the United States for its ties to China, with lawmakers calling last fall for the Director of National Intelligence to investigate it as a potential national security risk.
- TikTok has reiterated that it does not remove content with an eye towards Chinese governmental sensitivities and that it stores all United States user data in the US.
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On Wednesday, March For Our Lives co-founder David Hogg called for people to "#CancelTikTok," calling it a national security threat and citing the app's Chinese ownership. Hogg became a figure in national gun control discussions after he and fellow classmates turned to activism following the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting; following his high school graduation.
His series of tweets argued that it should "only be used to call out the Chinese government… for their atrocities and human rights abuses," calling upon the absence of pro-Hong Kong related content on the app amid protests last summer and tweeting that he refused to be "complicit in the death of democracy in Hong Kong by supporting TikTok."
TikTok is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance; the app has struggled with its image in the United States, drawing criticism from lawmakers like Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who have raised concerns about TikTok "censoring content in line with China's communist government directives."
TikTok pressured employees to censor content that may offend the Chinese government, according to The Washington Post, and has also sustained accusations of sending user data from the United States to China, according to a lawsuit. For its part, TikTok has consistently reiterated that it stores all US user data in the United States with backup redundancy in Singapore and that it does not remove content "based on sensitivities to China."
In response to Hogg's tweet, some argued that American-based companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter engage in similar behaviors; Facebook especially has come under fire in recent years for privacy concerns, particularly in reference to the Cambridge Analytica incident, which saw the company mishandle data from over 50 million of its users.
While Hogg is one of the most prominent Gen Z activists, the generation has by-and-large embraced the app for its meme culture, viral dances, and vibrant community. His criticism appeared to resonate with prominent conservatives on Twitter like Ian Miles Cheong while prompting negative responses from other young, politically active users like 26-year-old Washington state congressional candidate Joshua Collins, whose campaign is centered around using TikTok as an outreach tool.
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