The perceived threat of Chinese spying through the popular social media app TikTok has leaders in both parties sounding the alarm and urging a federal response.
The video-sharing service is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms globally and has approximately 80 million users in the United States. But critics worry the Chinese Communist government could access biometric data, keystroke patterns, and location information that could be deployed against American users or to harvest intelligence.
The controversy intensified when BuzzFeed News published leaked audio from internal TikTok meetings in which employees said company engineers in Beijing repeatedly accessed data from American users, including device information, birthdays, and phone numbers. That contradicts what the company previously told U.S. lawmakers. Spokespeople for the company counter that it does not collect “faceprints” — think fingerprints but useful for facial recognition software — and that keystroke rhythms are monitored only to guard against bots, not to identify specific typing patterns and habits of unique users.