Rep. Jaamal Bowman, D-N.Y., dismissed criticism of the Chinese-owned app TikTok as “fearmongering” and “xenophobia” during a recent interview and said he hasn’t seen evidence of Chinese espionage.
“There are many apps on our phones right now that are Chinese apps. And so the idea that, ‘Oh, TikTok is the boogeyman’ — it’s just part of a political fearmongering that’s happening,” the far-left “Squad” member of Congress told NBC News.
Bowman compared criticism of the app to GOP “fearmongering” on the idea of an “open border” and the debt limit. He also said it had to do with “xenophobia around China.”
The New York congressman is planning to hold a press conference alongside TikTok creators on Wednesday to defend the popular app.
“This is a space where these creators have found a platform to share their ideas, their inspirations, their thoughts, their voices with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. And why do we want to take that away?” Bowman said. “Why do we need to ban a platform that 150 million Americans now use?”
Bowman, who uses the app frequently, has also said he doesn’t see any evidence of Chinese espionage.
“I haven’t seen any hard evidence that TikTok is committing some form of espionage,” he argued. “What I’ve heard is speculation. And what I’ve heard is innuendo.”
Several Republican-led states have banned the app on government devices amid national security concerns.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has called for a TikTok ban in the U.S. and argued that it poses a threat to national security.
“TikTok can be used as a propaganda mechanism for the Community Party of China,” Warner said. “That, I believe, is a national security concern.”
“When we look at American companies like Facebook looking the other way in 2016 when Russia colluded to impact our election — Facebook is a national security risk. We’re not talking about a ban on Facebook,” Bowman also told NBC News. He added that it is “ill-advised” to zero-in on TikTok.
The Democratic representative also said banning TikTok could be problematic for the Democratic Party.