OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been hit with a lot of bad news this week.
It was revealed on Wednesday that AOC is under House Ethics investigation. Now, she apparently will not say whether she’s still using TikTok, the controversial Chinese social media platform that the FBI has warned poses serious national security threats.
“Ocasio-Cortez mentioned in an Instagram Live video last year that she had an account on the social media platform but did not share her handle. TikTok has been denounced by lawmakers, experts, and commentators as a national security threat due to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) use of the app to harvest data on users. Additionally, the potential for China to manipulate what Americans see – or don’t see – on TikTok has sparked concern that the CCP could use it for influence operations,” Fox News reported.
“Fox News Digital asked if the congresswoman still has and uses her account, but Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not answer. Questions about TikTok’s algorithm being manipulated to further the CCP’s geopolitical interests have been raised and the platform’s use is banned on government devices by several state governments, including Maryland,” the outlet added.
During a June 2021 Instagram live, AOC said: “I have a secret. I started a TikTok account. But I haven’t told anybody what it is. I’m just lurking, waiting for my moment.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray warned last week that Chinese officials have the ability to control TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.”
During a speech at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Wray warned that TikTok collects user data that the Chinese government could then access and use for traditional espionage operations.
“All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us,” Wray said.
Wray issued similar concerns last month during congressional appearances.
“China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined,” Wray told the lawmakers. He also said the dangers of TikTok “include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so choose or to control software on millions of devices, which gives the opportunity to potentially tactically compromise personal devices.”
Several governors across the country are also taking action against TikTok.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott added Texas to the growing list of states that have banned TikTok from government-issued devices.
“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices — including when, where and how they conduct Internet activity — and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Abbott said in the letters.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan banned TikTok, and other China- and Russia-based platforms, on Tuesday. Prior to that, both South Carolina and South Dakota made the same move.
“The Pentagon has also banned TikTok from government devices though officials may use it on personal electronics. On Wednesday, Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, unveiled two lawsuits against TikTok. The first lawsuit accuses it of luring children through misleading representations stating it contains only infrequent or mildly sexual content, profanity, or drug use. The second is over accusations that it has collected “reams of highly sensitive data and personal information” on Indiana consumers who it has deceived to believe that they are protected from the Chinese Communist Party,” MSN reported.
“TikTok represents a clear and present danger to Hoosiers that is hiding in plain sight in their own pockets,” Rokita said in a statement. “At the very least, the company owes consumers the truth about the age-appropriateness of its content and the insecurity of the data it collects on users.”