TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has appeared in a one-minute video address ahead of a US Congressional hearing focusing on the app’s Chinese ownership. In his message, Chew appealed for users to stand up in defence of the app, following the recent news that some American politicians were discussing a ban. He said the move could result in the removal of the app for all 150 million American users, stating that such a move would be noticed by huge numbers of people. Chew also outlined facts that will be part of his House Energy and Commerce Committee testimony, including the information that TikTok now has 150 million US users, almost half of the country’s population.
He also revealed that TikTok now employs 7,000 people in the US, a significant jump from the 1,400 the company had last year. While this is less than the 10,000 Chew said the company had been aiming for this year, it is still a sizeable number that will no doubt be cited by the company in the coming weeks. TikTok has been fighting for its survival in the US for some time now, with the threat of a ban hanging over it since last year. The issue has been brought to the fore recently, with President Joe Biden stating that he takes the threat posed by Chinese technology seriously.
In his video, Chew did not directly call on TikTok users to ask their elected representatives to take action to preserve the app, but he did ask them to comment and let him know what they love about the service. While it is unclear how much influence such comments might have, it is a clear attempt by the company to show the size of the groundswell of support it has in the US. With so many people, including small and medium-sized businesses, using it, the removal of the TikTok from the US would be highly controversial and represent a significant setback for the company.