15 Unbelievable Questions Asked in the TikTok Hearing, Ranked

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As debates around TikTok’s future in the US rage on social media, we’ve compiled the ultimate, internet-favorite list of questions that the senate asked TikTok’s CEO in a hearing about the privacy and data safety of US citizen using the short-form video app. In a digression from its otherwise somber nature, this hearing went viral for its iconic memes and comical reels. Buckle up, this is going to be everything you imagined it to be and more!

1. Why do you need to know where the eyes are if you’re not seeing if they are dilated?

Much to the joy and despair of the internet, this was one of the questions that one of the US senators posed to the CEO of TikTok. The reason for this query? The filters on TikTok that many users around the world, and in the US, access to make short-form videos. In the aftermath of the senate hearing, this query gained notoriety, with many users hilariously responding, “because sunglasses don’t look right on your neck.”

2. Can Chinese ByteDance employees access biometrics data of US users?

This was one of the more sombre queries but it was the Senate’s reaction to the response to the query that sent the internet into a frenzy. Once the CEO of TikTok confirmed that the biometric data of US users are “handled on US soil, by US personnel” under ‘Project Texas’ to safeguard users’ right to privacy and data safety, the senators claimed that they were not satisfied and put forth the suggestion that due to the close ties that ByteDance has some bearing on data sharing with the Chinese government. While the CEO of TikTok continued to offer explanations, nothing seemed to work and in fact, led to a number of viral memes in the aftermath.

3. If I download TikTok on my phone and that phone is connected to the home Wi-Fi network, then does it have access to that network?

Perhaps the most viral meme on the internet came about when one of the US senators asked the CEO of TikTok if the app could “access the Wi-Fi network”. Essentially, what the senator meant to ask was whether the app is able to access other personal information solely because it is connected to the same network as other apps containing sensitive information. Users online—flabbergasted by the suggestion—shared their thoughts, with one user saying, “We’re… not entirely sure… if they know how TikTok OR WiFi works…?”

4. Does TikTok access my battery to steal my electricity?

Of perhaps all the other queries, this particular query led the internet to erupt with memes and reels of all kinds. TikTok users—among many other social media enthusiasts—took online to share their cringe and embarrassment over the query. Stephen King in particular commented, “I hold no opinion yea or nay on that particular landing zone, but those questioning TikTok’s CEO are imbeciles when it comes to tech issues and social media. I’m no geek, but I was embarrassed for them.”

5. What color is the algorithm?

In a rather unbelievable turn of events, one senator’s whimsical question about the color of TikTok’s recommendation algorithm—which is considered infinitely more potent than its American counterparts—became the highlight of the proceedings. What was supposed to be a serious inquiry into how the app handles privacy and data safety quickly turned into an absurdity for the internet to turn into a meme. A user on X commented, “This entire hearing was a joke…” in the context of the disconnect between lawmakers and tech enterprises.

6. As CEO of TikTok, why have you not directed your engineers to change the source code?

This was yet another unbelievable direction that the hearing went into. One of the senators asked the CEO of TikTok why he had not directed his engineers to modify the source code. If that wasn’t enough, he refused to explain which source code he was referring to and why did it need to be changed. Considering the way this question went, you can imagine the field day that the internet had with this one.

7. If the Chinese Communist Party tells ByteDance to turn over all data that TikTok has collected inside the US, do they have to do so according to Chinese law?

A lot of the queries centred around ByteDance and its Chinese stakeholders but the senators in the hearing decided that wasn’t enough to assuage their doubts. One of the congressmen enquired whether the CEO of TikTok was aware of any compulsions that ByteDance would be under to turn over US users’ data if the Chinese law dictated it. The response? “Senator, I’m Singaporean.” The CEO of TikTok in fact would have no knowledge of the Chinese law being a Singaporean but that didn’t seem to stop probes into his nationality and ethnicity. A bit over the top, if you ask the Internet.

8. CEO’s opinions on China’s human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang?

There seems to be another consensus across the internet over the digression that one of the US senators chose to put forth by asking the Singaporean CEO of a short, video-format app about his thoughts on China’s human rights infractions with Uyghurs. Naturally, TikTok’s CEO refrained from answering questions about China and emphasized that he had always remained a citizen of Singapore. This particular query sparked outrage among Singaporean users, who claimed that the US senate hearing was ignorant and failed to stick to the matter at hand.

9. Whether TikTok should be removed from ByteDance’s ownership because of the alleged mining of data from the Chinese government?

During the hearing, there was a real sense of worry among lawmakers about whether TikTok could truly stand on its own without being swayed by the Chinese government. They were genuinely concerned that the platform might not have the freedom it needed to operate independently, despite the CEO’s promises to the contrary. While many users believed the fear expressed by the senate to the human, others felt that it was believable that the data was in fact protected by US personnel on US soil.

10. Do you know you’ve unified Democrats and Republicans?

According to one senator, TikTok had brought upon the senate a rather rare occasion where Republicans and Democrats had found common ground in their doubts about the platform. The CEO’s puzzled and worried expressions during the scrutiny highlighted just how divisive the platform had become for the senate, prompting bipartisan calls for regulation.

11. Everyone thinks you’re part of the Chinese Communist Party. Or, are you still living in a mystical world?

The CEO was caught off guard when a senator launched into an aggressive line of questioning about TikTok’s supposed ties to the Chinese Communist Party. It was a tense moment, with the CEO scrambling to find the right words to address the concerns while maintaining composure under the spotlight. Despite his attempts to emphasize the platform’s neutrality, doubts lingered among the senators. The internet on the other hand had quite some fun with the exchange, with one netizen remarking, “bro mad aggressive tho[ugh].”

12. Of what nation are you a citizen?

In a twist that could rival a soap opera plot, the CEO’s nationality became the unexpected star of the show during the hearing. Senators couldn’t curb their urge to continue poking into the CEO’s background, turning the spotlight onto their citizenship. Despite attempts to shift the conversation back to the main agenda, the unexpected drama of the proceedings remained on why the CEO had not applied for US citizenship and if he was really a Singaporean as he says.

13. Have you ever applied for Chinese citizenship?

It was precisely this line of query that caused the backlash in the aftermath of the hearing. While the CEO of TikTok had already established his citizenship as Singaporean and had denied any ties to the Chinese government or their undertakings, the senate refused to let it go. Much to the amusement of the internet, who went ahead and poked fun by comically exaggerating the line of query.

14. Have you ever been part of the Chinese Communist Party?

At this point in the hearing, like the Internet, everyone seemed to have given up. The questions around the platform and its Chinese ties had taken precedence over US users and their privacy and data safety concerns. Many social media enthusiasts called out the senators for digressing instead of asking real questions about data safety. Many others, however, chose to poke fun at the drama with viral memes and commentary.

15. Are you in regular communication with ByteDance CEO?

In yet another query into the Chinese of it all, the senators questioned TikTok’s ties with ByteDance, which is known to have connections with the Chinese Communist Party. Despite the CEO explaining that he neither had knowledge of or ties with any Chinese stakeholders, the senators continued to ask if he was in contact with ByteDance which also happens to be the major stakeholder in TikTok and if their Chinese employees had access to data on US users.

*This article originally appeared on ReadingRanked*

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