Senator Marco Rubio wants U.S. authorities to look into TikTok, the app where teens go to watch and share short video memes.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Florida Republican called on the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) to “launch a full and thorough national security review of TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly.” TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company paid $1 billion for Musical.ly at the tail end of 2017.
“There continues to be ample and growing evidence that TikTok’s platform for Western markets, including those in the U.S., is censoring content that is not in line with the Chinese Government and Communist Party directives,” Rubio wrote.
The senator specifically cited a Washington Post report suggesting TikTok is censoring videos related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Following that report, the Guardian published past TikTok moderation guidelines. The app’s rules for moderators banned topics such as “Tiananmen Square.”
In a statement sent to Fast Company, a spokesperson for TikTok said its policies “are not influenced by any foreign government.” The spokesperson added, “The Chinese government does not request that TikTok censor content, and would not have jurisdiction regardless, as TikTok does not operate there.”
However, TikTok’s owner, Bytedance, does. While TikTok is not available in China, Bytedance also runs Douyin, an app similar to TikTok only available in China, as well as a news service called Jinri Toutiao.
According to the spokesperson, TikTok is “looking into the formation of a committee of leading industry organizations and experts to help us further refine and regularly assess our policies and implementation, and increase transparency.”