TikTok, Facebook among social media firms asked to front Senate foreign interference inquiry

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 29 July 2020
TikTok

Social media companies have been asked to give evidence at a Senate inquiry into foreign interference, with TikTok the first to front the committee.

The Senate’s Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media has asked Facebook, Twitter, Google and WeChat to face questions at public hearings as it looks into the risk posed to Australia’s democracy and values by foreign interference through social media.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, will be the first to appear on August 21. The firm will face questions relating to its ties to the Chinese government as federal MPs raise alarm over its use of data.

Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie previously told media that the popular video-sharing app could be a national security threat.

Coalition MP Tim Wilson also called out TikTok, taking aim at its recent advertising push to ease privacy concerns. Wilson also told The New Daily he wants to know whether TikTok is a “a legitimate social media company or an arm of soft power for the Chinese Communist Party”.

TikTok has confirmed it will appear at the committee but hasn’t said who will be representing it.

“TikTok is committed to transparent dialogue with our community, including policymakers and we will work with the Committee as we engage with this process,” a TikTok spokesperson says.

“TikTok welcomes ongoing discussions with government audiences as we work to remain a safe, fun and creative platform for people to express themselves.”

Facebook will appear at a second public hearing in September, when all the other social media firms have been asked to attend.

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