TikTok Failed to Make the Case for Itself ⇥ platformer.news
It is a ritual previously endured by Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey, among others. And while each of them faced withering questions, in the end withering questions is all that Congress really gave them. Hearings like these are often framed as a precursor to stringent regulation, but in the United States they are a substitute for them. Congress yells at social media companies — posting clips of their sickest burns on the very companies they criticize — and then fails to pass a single piece of legislation.
TikTok’s hearing might have gone this way, too, were it not for one overarching, bipartisan concern: that the company’s owner, ByteDance, might be forced by the Chinese government to surveil Americans or seek to influence them by promoting pro-China or anti-US content.
I think this might be the best exploration of what happened today, with the small caveat that I am not sure TikTok could have done a single thing to convince lawmakers. Its behaviour leading up to this hearing, while similar to that of other tech companies, basically ensured this hearing would go the way it did. If it was not already clear enough, just before the hearing, the Chinese government confirmed forced divestiture was off the table.