AOC defends TikTok after company donated $300,000 to congressional black, Hispanic caucuses

TikTok parent company ByteDance gave $150,000 to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Foundation and to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation each.

Joshua Young North Carolina

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has faced criticism for defending TikTok after reports emerged that, in December, the Chinese-owned social media platform donated $150,000 to Congressional Hispanic Caucus Foundation and to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation each.

Fox News reports that the lobbying contribution report from TikTok's parent company ByteDance shows the six-figure donations. Heritage Foundation tech policy expert, Jake Denton, said, "TikTok’s parent company gave $150,000 to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. AOC is a member of the CHCI advisory council. What a coincidence!"

According to her website, Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and her defense of TikTok came in the wake of the social media giant's CEO Shou Chew Florida testifying before the Congressional House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday about the degree to which his company puts users' personal data into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

After Chew's testimony, and several calls to ban TikTok in the US, Ocasio-Cortez took to the platform, where she has 396.1k followers, and said, "To me, the solution here is not to ban an individual company, but to actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no."

One Twitter user responded, "Good points but that's not what banning TikTok is about. It's a national security concern just like Huawei. Other countries have either banned it totally or on government devices which is also unprecedented for social media companies. The safety and security of Americans has [to] be a top priority!"

"And usually when the United States is proposing a very major move that has something to do with significant risk to national security, one of the first things that happens is that Congress receives a classified briefing. And I can tell you that Congress has not received a classified briefing around the allegations of national security risks regarding TikTok. So why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a significant issue without being clued in on this at all? It just doesn’t feel right to me," the congresswoman said.

"AOC: Congress has not received a classified briefing on national security concerns around Tiktok. This even though 2020 Trump era executive order called out national emergency?" wrote another user.

"And additionally, this case needs to be made to the public. We are a government by the people and for the people, and if we want to make a decision as significant as banning TikTok, and we believe or someone believes that there’s really important information that the public deserves to know about why such a decision would be justified, that information should be shared with the public as well," said Ocasio-Cortez.

"But frankly, I think a lot of this is putting the cart before the horse because our first priority should be in protecting your ability to exist without social media companies harvesting and commodifying every single piece of data about you without you and without your consent," she added.

Fox News reports American Foreign Policy Council fellow Michael Sobolik said, "AOC echoes "TikTok’s talking points and ignores the app’s true threat: CCP-directed disinformation."

Sar Haribhakti, a University of Rochester computer science and economics professor, tweeted, "Extremely on brand for her to turn this into a ‘data privacy’ & social media issue, leave out the info control & influence argument, not factor in decades of documented CCP history and present a dumb case in a way that will resonate with her base."


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