Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines is calling out TikTok’s “information blackout” for Russian users that prevents them from accessing content produced outside the country.
The popular social media platform announced on March 6 that it would ban live-streams and new uploads from Russia-based accounts in response to the country’s “fake news” law, which prohibits individuals and media outlets from sharing factual information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Several major media outlets, including CNN, Bloomberg News, and the BBC, suspended operations in Russia.
Daines cites a TechCrunch report finding that state-owned media outlets such as RIA Novosti and RT are continuing to post on TikTok, and are some of the only accounts available for Russian users to view. As a result of TikTok’s Russia policy, more than 93% of content posted about the invasion, according to a study by the group Tracking.Exposed.
Although “it appears TikTok belatedly closed this loophole on March 25, the misleading, pro–regime content that flooded the service has not been taken down, creating an easily–accessible archive of pro–war propaganda,” Daines writes to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, in a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller.
Read the letter here:
Daines is requesting that TikTok provide information about what it plans to do with the Russian state media accounts, as well as confirm various aspects of its policies toward media accounts run by other countries. (RELATED: TikTok Parent Company Limits Screen Time For Chinese Kids To 40 Minutes Per Day)
“The Kremlin is doing everything they can to suppress free speech and keep their citizens in the dark about Putin’s war of aggression. TikTok has a responsibility to ensure its policies are enforced equally, and that it’s platform does not turn into a vehicle for Russian state propaganda that celebrates Putin’s war crimes and vilifies the freedom-loving people of Ukraine,” he said in a statement to the Daily Caller.
Republicans have repeatedly warned that TikTok, owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, is a likely national security threat. Chinese law requires that tech companies share massive amounts of user data with the government, and TikTok’s user agreement suggests that it collects biometric markers and other identifying information from users.
Former President Donald Trump sought to ban the app on national security grounds in 2020, but a federal judge overturned his executive order. ByteDance prepared to sell the app to Oracle but the deal ultimately fell through after President Joe Biden ordered a review of Trump’s actions.