The U.S. government is beginning a national security review of the Chinese-owned TikTok viral video app.
Reuters reported on the beginning of the investigation on Friday. The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is inquiring into TikTok’s parent company, Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.
Specifically, investigators are said to be probing the company’s 2017 $1 billion acquisition of another app, Musical.ly. That app was combined with TikTok in August of 2018.
Foreign companies that acquire American technology entities are subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment. TikTok’s parent was never reviewed for its acquistion of Musical.ly, and is thus being investigated after the fact for any potential discrepancies related to their business practices.
TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity, becoming one of the most popular social media apps since its initial release in 2016. It boasts more than 26 million annual users, 60% of whom are between 16-24 years old.
Much of the content uploaded on the platform is innocuous, allowing users to make easily edited videos and viral content.
Senators such as Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have expressed concern that TikTok’s owners could be cooperating with the Chinese government to surveil Americans and implement political censorship.
The founder of Musical.ly, Alex Zhu, began to report directly to ByteDance’s Chinese CEO, Zhang Yiming. He had previously reported to a lower-ranking ByteDance subsidiary.
Hawley has called for TikTok executives to testify next week at a Senate hearing in regards to American consumer data ending up in the hands of Chinese companies. Chinese businesses are required by law to cooperate with the nation’s intelligence agencies.
Two Men Arrested for Planning Terrorist Attack on Trump Tower in Support of ISIS
They’re from South Carolina and Texas.
The FBI has arrested two men and charged them with planning terrorist attacks on locations such as New York’s Trump Tower in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Kristopher Sean Matthews of South Carolina and Jaylyn Christopher Molina of Texas have been charged with conspiring to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Matthews adopted the pseudonym Ali Jibreel, and Molina the name Abdur Rahim.
The pair allegedly plotted to attack government facilities and New York’s Trump Tower, discussing their plans in jihadist chatrooms. They were busted by federal informants within these honeypots.
“We need to stick together, we need to defeat them, we need to take a lot of casualties,” said Molina of the pair’s plotting. Molina spoke of his allegiance to ISIS in the server. “You are my enemy (America) and never will I wear your flag … but I will raise the black flag of Allah.”
They also spoke of the proposition of traveling to Syria in order to fight for ISIS, an idea that would’ve almost certainly resulted in their quick capture or death. American citizens caught fighting for ISIS on foreign battlefields have proven to be a legal nightmare for American military and civil law to manage.
Both were arrested on Monday. They face a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison, with a lifetime of supervised release.
These clowns didn’t get very far in actually planning acts of violence in support of ISIS, and they seem to have somewhat missed the boat- ISIS has largely been defeated by American-backed Kurdish militias and the Iraqi and Syrian governments. But they deserve punishment nonetheless.
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