TikTok hearing a five-hour 'hilarious cyber witch-hunt' by Congress internet illiterates: netizens
Published: Mar 24, 2023 08:27 PM
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew (up center) testifies at a US Congressional hearing on March 23, 2023. The hearing, which was supposed to discuss data security and protection of children, was described by many netizens as a barbaric witch-hunt and pure bullying. Photo: VCG

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew (center) testifies at a US Congressional hearing on March 23, 2023. The hearing, which was supposed to discuss data security and protection of children, was described by many netizens as a barbaric witch hunt and pure bullying. Photo: VCG

The five-hour US Congressional TikTok hearing has made quite a splash on Chinese social media platforms, with netizens saying it fully revealed American lawmakers' harassing interrogation methods, unreasonable challenges and that the hearing had nothing to do with data security, but was nothing more than an anti-Communist witch hunt. 

Many media outlets used the word "grilled" to describe TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew's situation attending the hearing, which Chinese netizens fully agreed with. 

At the Thursday hearing, bipartisan lawmakers lined up to throw up several vague, speculative questions at Chew about data privacy, content moderation, child safety, and potential ties to the Communist Party of China (CPC), but barely gave him a chance to respond. 

"The hearing left me the impression that they [lawmakers] care nothing about data security or youth addiction, but just used the hearing as a stage to perform a political farce," a user wrote on Sina Weibo.

I have never heard so many "CPCs" from an American than at the hearing. Can't they spell China? another Weibo user asked. 

"The ghost of McCarthyism is haunting the US again."

Another source of amusement for Chinese netizens came when Republican Dan Crenshaw claimed that Chinese citizens must cooperate with Chinese intelligence and if they are called upon, they are bound to secrecy. "That would include you [Chew]." The CEO responded: I'm Singaporean. 

People shared the feeling that Chew was not attending a hearing, but was being interrogated barbarically by a group of rude internet illiterate. 

One Chinese net user told the Global Times after a post on WeChat: I have to say I am sympathetic to Chew, who had to sit there for five hours listening to nonsense and respond to ridiculous accusations. He could have spent that time on more meaningful things, if it were not for the irrational, hysterical US."

"Chew: Spending five hours in gym would be better than staying here," the net user wrote. 

Chinese netizens generally felt sympathetic watching a well-educated, decent executive of an internet company attempting to answer questions like "Does TikTok access the home WiFi network?"

In response to that, a Chinese netizen jokingly wrote: "Using 5G is also fine, but first you need to lift the bans on Huawei and ZTE." 

Another similarly "funny" question came from Georgia representative Earl "Buddy" Carter, who asked: "Why do you need to know where the eyes are [for a sunglass filter]?"

Twitter user Scott Hanselman wrote: "There's not a single congressperson who has the technical background to ask or understand the questions and answers. Not even close." 

A WeChat moments post seen by Global Times read: "Basic education in STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics, if not human decency, is necessary." 

It was a great moment of disillusion for some people who still have a rosy idea of a US where internet giants like Google are born. But the golden age ended a long time ago and the US has turned from a cradle of innovation into a robber, observers said. 

By asking these ridiculous questions, the lawmakers have exposed not only their internet illiteracy, but also hegemonic mindset and pure arrogance - they didn't even bother to really use the app before launching vicious accusations against it. 

As for a question blaming TikTok for content on gun violence, drugs and even suicide, netizens urged the congresspersons to understand that TikTok is not "creating" them, it is only "showing" them as all platforms do. "TikTok is not a guardian," one tweet read.  

"It doesn't matter what Chew says, it doesn't even matter whether he appears or not. The hearing is just part of a witch hunt in the cyber era, and the verdict has already been written." 

Global Times