A log of TikTok. /CFP
TikTok said on Monday the short-video sharing app now has 150 million monthly active users in the U.S., up from the 100 million it said it had in 2020.
The Chinese app confirmed the figure ahead of its CEO Chew Shou Zi’s testimony set for Thursday before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The app faces growing pressure in Washington, including calls to ban it by many in Congress, who fear its U.S. user data could fall into the hands of China’s government. TikTok said in September 2021 that globally it had more than 1 billion monthly users.
Last Friday, six more U.S. senators backed a bipartisan legislation to give U.S. President Joe Biden new powers to ban TikTok on national security grounds.
TikTok said last week the Biden administration demanded that its Chinese owners divest their stake in the app or it could face a U.S. ban.
Rejecting allegations of spying, TikTok said that it had spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts, adding, “if protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access.”
The new figures are a sign of the app’s wide popularity especially among younger Americans.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Bloomberg News there could be political ramifications to banning TikTok. “The politician in me thinks you’re gonna literally lose every voter under 35, forever,” she said.
Some TikTok content creators will come to Washington this week to make a case for why the app should not be banned.
(With input from Reuters)