As China increasingly grows as a U.S. adversary versus ally, one tech expert sounded a “five-alarm fire” about how Chinese-owned TikTok is indoctrinating America’s youngest generations.
“The information environment is being actively manipulated by our enemy. That is a problem,” the Heritage Foundation tech policy center director Kara Frederick said on “The Bottom Line” Wednesday. “It is a five-alarm fire and we don’t even know what that’s going to look like 10 years from now when children who are getting all of this information, they’re internalizing it, they’re believing that it’s true.”
“Then they’re going into our institutions, they’re graduating from college and becoming the judges, the lawyers of the next generation – massive issue,” she stressed. “It needs to be banned.”
Last year during a Fortune conference discussion, Google executive Prabhakar Raghavan talked about the evolution of the search engine and noted how almost 40% of the youngest generation are going to TikTok instead of Google for content.
“You have estimates this year saying over half of Gen Z uses TikTok search as their No. 1 search engine. So they’re not just going on after school and just kind of mindlessly scrolling. No, they’re actually searching for terms: Gaza, Israel and getting a flood of CCP-influenced propaganda in front of their eyeballs almost constantly, all day, every day. Massive problem [as a] source of news for Gen Z,” Frederick said.
However, a TikTok spokesperson told FOX News Digital on Thursday that there is “no evidence to support these claims.”
“The content on TikTok, which is not available in China, is generated by our community and is not influenced by any government,” the spokesperson said.
Montana became the first state this year to ban new downloads of the video-sharing app based on fears over Chinese misinformation or influence.
In response, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, ByteDance, claimed in a lawsuit that Montana’s ban “infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok, a platform that empowers hundreds of thousands of people across the state.” The legal challenge is currently moving through the court system.
“TikTok is subject to the laws and policies of the People’s Republic of China. So they have to do what the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, tells them to do. And what I think is really interesting here that’s often missed is Gen Z in particular is using TikTok as a source of news,” Frederick noted.
“And we know from Forbes reporting that they manually, artificially handpick certain accounts and stories to go viral,” the tech expert added. “So that’s massively problematic when you have CCP-influenced employees at ByteDance and TikTok saying, ‘Hmm, I want this user to go viral. I want this video to get more hits. I want this hashtag to be at the top of everyone’s search.’”
Providing an update regarding the ongoing Montana litigation, the TikTok spokesperson told Digital: “We believe the Montana ban is unconstitutional and look forward to the court’s decision.”
Frederick called for congressional legislation that would provide oversight or regulations on TikTok, but expressed that other states should follow Montana’s lead until then.
“Eighteen state attorneys general, including Virginia, where I live, they wrote an amicus brief in support of this Montana ban,” she said. “Let’s go. Let’s let these labs of democracies go if Congress is not going to act.”
FOX Business’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.
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