WASHINGTON • US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin yesterday said social media app TikTok is under federal government review and a recommendation will be made to President Donald Trump on it.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, is looking at TikTok, said Mr Mnuchin.
Mr Trump said before leaving the White House on a trip to Texas that they are thinking about a decision on the matter.
Both Mr Trump and Mr Mnuchin’s statements come after a group of top Republican US senators asked the Trump administration to assess the threat that the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app might be used to meddle in the US election.
In a letter on Tuesday, Mr Marco Rubio, Mr Tom Cotton and other lawmakers cited alleged censorship by TikTok of sensitive content, including a video critical of China’s treatment of Uighur minorities, as well as alleged attempts by Beijing to manipulate political discussions on social media apps.
“We are greatly concerned that the (Chinese Communist Party) could use its control over TikTok to distort or manipulate (political) conversations to sow discord among Americans and to achieve its preferred political outcomes,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Office of Director of National Intelligence, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A spokesman for TikTok said the company, though not a “go-to” for political news, was “proactively investing to safeguard our app”, and taking cues from the experience of peers during the last election.
“TikTok already has a strict policy against disinformation, and we don’t accept political ads,” said the spokesman, adding that content and moderation policies are led by a California-based team and are not “influenced by any foreign government”.