In a not-so-shocking turn of events, a group of which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is a known ranking member quietly accepted a large series of donations coming directly from ByteDance, the China-based parent company known to run the titanic social media platform TikTok, which the high-profile democratic socialist "Squad" member stood in staunch defense of as legislators debate the possibility of a nationwide ban over national security concerns.
As a technology policy expert out of the Heritage Foundation, Jake Denton highlighted that Ocasio-Cortez sits as a member of the advisory council for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a nonprofit group that was issued $150,000 near the end of last year from ByteDance, as reported in a report about lobbying contributions. "What a coincidence," chimed in Denton via social media.
Ocasio-Cortez recently stated via a post to TikTok that such a ban of the platform on the grounds of national security and privacy concerns would just be "unprecedented" and stated that such a choice does not at all "really address the core of the issue, which is the fact that major social media companies are allowed to collect troves of deeply personal data about you that you do not know about." she went on to add that lawmakers should instead try and pass a much more broad bill about data privacy for social media firms.
"The United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that has no significant data or privacy protection laws on the books," she stated, making the assertion that regulators should instead "actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no."
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has also stepped up to try and defend TikTok on the public stage. He currently sits as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, while his wife, Melissa Oppenheimer, has worked alongside the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which shockingly also was given a shocking $150,000 donation directly from ByteDance.
"TikTok as a platform has created a community and a space for free speech for 150 million Americans and counting," exclaimed Bowman late last week. "It is also a place where 5 million small businesses are selling their products and services and making a living."
This high level of scrutiny of the TikTok app has once again come to the forefront, first being set in motion by former President Donald Trump and his calling for a ban near the end of his term, all as relations between the United States and China have become increasingly strained.