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TikTok’s Chief Is on a Mission to Prove It’s Not A MenaceND
Raymond Zhong, The New York Times, Monday 18th November 2019
In recent months, TikTok has emerged as the refreshing weirdo upstart of the American social media landscape, reconfiguring the culture in its joyful, strange wake. But to some in the US government, it is a menace – namely because of the nationality of its owner, a seven-year-old Chinese social media company called ByteDance. Some in the government fear TikTok is exposing America’s youth to Communist Party indoctrination and smuggling their data to Beijing’s servers. This is what brought the company’s head, Alex Zhu, to Manhattan last week. In an interview – his first since taking over at TikTok this year – Mr Zhu denied key accusations levelled at the company: that TikTok censors videos that displease China, or that it sends data to China. He said all data is stored in Virginia, with a backup server in Singapore. But China is a murky place for companies, and many in Washington remain deeply suspicious of Chinese tech companies to a degree that can feel like paranoia, and that will continue to be an issue for companies like TikTok.
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