TikTok is a

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Washington — Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, who sit atop the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned Sunday of the threat posed by TikTok, a social media app owned by a China-based company that’s become widely popular among young people in the U.S.

“We might have slightly different ways on how we go at this, but we think this is a national security issue,” Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said of himself and Rubio on “Face the Nation.”

The video-sharing app has been under fire by U.S. officials for years amid warnings that China’s government could gain access to its data and use it to manipulate or spy on Americans. But a renewed push targeting TikTok has gained momentum on Capitol Hill in recent days, with a House bill that would compel the company to either sell the app or be banned from U.S. app stores.

Warner noted that since a large portion of American young people use TikTok as a news source, and because the app collects data that could be available to the Chinese Communist Party, it poses a serious threat, and perhaps “the most powerful propaganda tool ever.”

Sens. Mark Warner and Marco Rubio on “Face the Nation,” March 10, 2024.

CBS News


“If you don’t think the Chinese Communist Party can twist that algorithm to make it the news that they see reflective of their views, then I don’t think you appreciate the nature of the threat,” Warner said. 

Rubio, a Florida Republican, explained that the algorithm at the root of TikTok is owned by the company ByteDance, where it must remain under Chinese law. Because that algorithm relies upon access to the data, he says engineers in China will continue to have access to it no matter where the company is headquartered. 

“Whoever owns the algorithm will have access to the data, no matter who the name on the door is,” Rubio said. “It doesn’t work without the data.”

The bill is slated for a vote on the House floor this week, after lawmakers moved quickly to bring the legislation forward in recent days. President Biden said Friday that he would sign the legislation if it passes the House and Senate, despite his campaign recently joining the app, which Warner said “sends a pretty darn mixed message.”

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