WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As the CEO of TikTok testified before Congress Thursday, parents concerned about the social media app’s effects on kids’ mental health were also on Capitol Hill to demand a ban.
Conservatives, including groups called Moms for Liberty and Moms Against TikTok, say it’s time to do away with the app not if not for national security concerns, then for the safety of kids.
“The Chinese Communist Party should not be allowed to conduct psychological warfare on our children,” Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., said.
They argued the app is amplifying the mental health crisis among teens.
“Get your kids off of this app,” Tiffany Justice of Moms for Liberty said. “It brings them down this rabbit hole.”
“It’s one of the most dangerous influences in their lives,” Miller said.
During his testimony, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew stopped short of agreeing to lawmakers’ calls that the app stop targeting ads to users under the age of 17.
“I understand there’s some talk and some legislation about this,” Chew said.
“I wanted you to make that commitment without the legislation since you say you’re a good company, you want to do good things, why not?” Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said.
“It’s something we can look into and get back to you,” Chew replied.
He insisted policies are in place to protect young users, including new time restrictions. But pointing to the suicide of a 16-year-old, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., said that’s not enough.
“Your technology is literally leading to death,” Bilirakis said.
Congress has been mulling a nationwide ban of TikTok. It’s unclear if it will happen.
Separately, there is a growing bipartisan effort to stop all big tech companies from collecting and selling children’s data.
“We want to protect them from harm,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is part of that effort, said.