TikTok ‘Screams’ of National Security Risks: FBI Director

TikTok ‘Screams’ of National Security Risks: FBI Director
FBI Director Christopher Wray at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on May 25, 2022. (Bonnie Cash/Pool/Getty Images)
Samantha Flom
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday about the dangers TikTok poses to the United States’ national security.
“This is a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government, and it, to me, it screams out with national security concerns,” Wray told senators at a March 8 hearing on “Worldwide Threats.”

TikTok, a popular social media app that boasts more than 1 billion active users worldwide, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance—a fact that makes the app all the more dangerous, according to Wray.

In an exchange with Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the FBI director confirmed that the app not only had the ability to collect users’ personal information but could also use it to control the software on their electronic devices.

Additionally, Wray confirmed that the app could manipulate content that is presented to American users to drive political narratives.

“For example, let’s say China wants to invade Taiwan,” Rubio postulated. “[Could TikTok] make sure that Americans are seeing videos arguing why Taiwan belongs to China, why the U.S. should not intervene?”

Wray, affirming that to be the case, added: “We’re not sure that we would see many of the outward signs that it was happening if it was happening. And I think … the most fundamental piece that cuts across every one of those risks and threats that you mentioned, that I think Americans need to understand, is something that’s very sacred in our country: the difference between the private sector and the public sector.”

In China under communism, he noted, no such difference exists, so TikTok could potentially be compelled to provide Americans’ personal data to the Chinese Communist Party upon request.

“So, they can collect our data, manipulate information, poison the minds and feed garbage into the minds of millions of people,” Rubio summarized.

“This is a substantial national security threat for the country of a kind that we didn’t face in the past,” the senator added. “At the end of the day, it’s not about, you know, some grown man in the middle of the day putting up videos ... that people that have a job shouldn’t be putting up. But it’s also about all of these other things that we’ve talked about—the data, the ability to manipulate information. I would imagine that it’s probably one of the most valuable surveillance tools on the planet.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to TikTok for comment.

Samantha Flom is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering U.S. politics and news. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her at [email protected].
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