On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing in which lawmakers grilled the leadership of TikTok, a video sharing app owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The hearings were held over concerns about national security—given the parent company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The app has had its share of controversies, national security being one of them. Others have criticized the app over its effect on children and younger adults. But the hearing centered more on the security issue than anything else.
However, two Democratic lawmakers decided that protecting the woke agenda outweighed concerns that the CCP could be using the app to collect data and influence young Americans.
During the hearing with TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, most lawmakers were focused on the social media platform’s ties to communist China. However, Congresswomen Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) emphasized a more pressing concern for them: the potential for algorithms to become racist, according to Breitbart News.
While committee member Rep. Matsui acknowledged the China issue briefly, the majority of her remarks centered around her concerns regarding algorithms and discrimination.
“We cannot ignore the real and immediate threat posed by the Chinese government, especially with the vulnerable gear still in our telecom networks that needs to be replaced. However, we must also address the important internet governance issues that TikTok and other social media companies represent,” Rep. Matsui asserted.
She went on to reference the Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act, which aims to prohibit algorithms from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, age, gender, and ability. The bill would require online platforms to publish annual public reports detailing their content moderation practices, as a baseline requirement to establish meaningful oversight and consumer choice.
Rep. Matsui co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and it would establish an inter-agency task force consisting of the FTC, Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Commerce, and Department of Justice, to investigate discriminatory algorithmic processes.
During the hearing, Rep. Clarke expressed similar concerns and advocated for transparency requirements for social media platforms. She stated, “I believe that without mitigation against bias, platforms will continue to replicate and exacerbate discrimination that is illegal under civil rights law, as well as exclude important dialogue about sensitive topics like race from occurring on the platform.”
Matsui, like many of her contemporaries, argued that the app could be used to foment “political extremism.” She said:
Over the past few years, alarming information brought to light by whistleblowers have shown that social media companies are intimately aware of the effect their products have on young women, political extremism, and more. Despite this, they withheld those studies or declined to investigate further. In either case, it shows a pattern of evasive or negligent behavior that I find concerning or extreme.
Clarke echoed these sentiments, saying that issues with social media’s “content moderation, algorithmic discrimination and safety are neither new nor unique to TikTok.”
Speaking later in the hearing, New York congresswoman Rep. Yvette Clarke expressed similar woke concerns:
I share the concerns raised by my colleague, Congresswoman Matsui, related to algorithms. I believe that without mitigation against bias, platforms will continue to replicate, exacerbate discrimination that is illegal under civil rights law, as well as exclude important dialogue about sensitive topics like race from occurring on the platform.
Rep. Clarke went on to ask the TikTok CEO whether he agreed that there should be transparency requirements for social media platforms to “identify whether policies have a disparate impact on communities that are protected classes, like race, religion, national origin, or gender.”
“It is vital that the diverse culture of the United States is represented online,” said Clarke, also stating that social media platforms like TikTok need to do better at removing “hate speech” and “domestic terrorism” — a label increasingly applied by Democrats to Trump supporters.
At this point, it should never be a surprise when progressives take any opportunity possible to advance their woke agenda. Matsui and Clarke used this hearing to promote their bill, which already sounds like a massive example of government overreach. Using the state to enforce what content should be censored or boosted is a prime illustration of the type of authoritarianism Democrats are trying to foist on TikTok and other social media companies.
The idea that supposed “algorithmic discrimination” is an issue on par with national security would be absurd to most people. The nation is grappling with the possible impact of allowing such an app to be so widely used in the United States. Indeed, several state governments have banned the use of the app on state-owned devices, out of concern that sensitive information could fall into the hands of the CCP.
Still, for some Democrats, making sure that content promotes progressive social justice is a more pressing matter than one of the nation’s most powerful rivals gaining access to important data and corrupting our youth. At least we will have more antiracist kids while China takes over our country, right?