What the TikTok Hearings Really Mean

Hearings for the Popular Social Media app TikTok Have Been Occuring Over the Last Couple Weeks; Here is What They Mean for American Creators and Users

Citizens protesting the potential ban of TikTok
Credit: Politico

Citizens protesting the potential ban of TikTok Credit: Politico

Katherine Conner, Staff Writer/Editor

Hearings made by the Supreme Court in regard to the popular social media app TikTok have been transpiring for a couple of weeks, or since March 23, 2023. These hearings have made their way into the minds of creators who make content on the app and users who watch videos on the app. Countless creators have made videos talking about these hearings and advising their followers to follow/subscribe to their other accounts. Some have made the switch to other platforms, like Instagram or YouTube. Both social media websites have their own version of short videos that users can watch; Instagram with its Reels and YouTube with Shorts. However, most people are unaware of what these hearings really mean and how this decision could relate to other aspects of online life. 

The basic overview of the case, as CNN reported, is that the CEO of Tiktok, Shou Chew, appeared before Congress himself. The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok from the US unless the owners agree to share their profits. The US, as well as other countries, are moving to ban the app from government devices. However, the app doesn’t operate in China; rather, it operates in the US. A ministry spokesperson for China said that they would “firmly oppose” any sale of the app. Shu Juetting, the spokesperson in question, said, “Ignoring the products and services themselves, and only proceeding from the identity of foreign investors, forcing the sale of TikTok will seriously damage the confidence of investors from all over the world, including China, to invest in the United States.” 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifying at the Congressional hearing regarding TikTok.
Credit: Variety

The New York Times reported that lawmakers essentially attacked Chew in the hearing on March 23 for around five hours regarding the app’s ties with the Chinese government. The app is owned by ByteDance, which is a Chinese-owned business. Lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, asked Chew if TikTok was spying on Americans on behalf of the Chinese government. Chew said that the app was never affiliated with any government espionage. Some more recent development, in this case, has been the ban of TikTok in all Florida universities due to security concerns, as reported by USA Today. The universities are able to do this by prohibiting their campus WIFI from accessing the app. The policy enacted by these universities is in compliance with an emergency regulation created by the State University Board of Governors. However, there has been no proof provided that shows the app is being used to steal information from users. 

And even if the app were to get banned, it would take a while for the bill to be enacted. The bill would have to go through the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill would then be placed on the desk of President Biden to be signed, should he even sign it. If President Biden did sign the bill, then Congress would have to figure out how to enforce a bill like this. Congress has passed a bill that protects the safety of children online, but this is entirely different. So, users and creators don’t have to stress too much about a ban just yet. After all, these talks within Congress seem to just talk at this point in time. It is possible that a ban could be coming our way, but it seems to be far away.