Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) pledged to “save democracy” this week in a post on TikTok, the Chinese spyware app that intelligence officials say poses a threat to American democracy.
Schiff posted the short video as part of his campaign for Senate. “[On my way] to save democracy,” reads a caption on the six-second clip, which features club music in the background.
It’s the latest example of Schiff, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, ignoring intelligence officials’ warnings about TikTok to campaign. He first posted to the site in January to complain that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) removed him and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) from the Intelligence panel because they “severely undermined” its national security mission.
On Wednesday, FBI director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that TikTok is “a tool that is ultimately within the control of the Chinese government.” Wray warned that the Chinese government could manipulate content on TikTok to shape public perception in favor of Beijing, such as on the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty. The FBI chief said China’s control of the platform “screams out with national security concerns.”
National Security Agency director Paul Nakasone told Congress earlier this week that he is concerned with China’s ability to use TikTok to influence public discourse.
“It’s not only a fact that you can influence something, but you can also, you know, turn off the message as well when you have such a large population of listeners,” he said.
Schiff, who has praised the “hardworking men and women” at the FBI, has acknowledged the risks posed by TikTok.
“I don’t think members of the government ought to use it on their phones. I don’t use it on my phone, I wouldn’t recommend others, so I’d like to see the federal government not use TikTok,” he said last year. He said he has warned his children “to be very careful about your private data if you use TikTok on your phone” because it “may not be secure.”
Last month, the White House directed federal agencies to remove TikTok from all government-issued phones. Congress issued a similar ban for members and staffers late last year. It is unclear whether Schiff has used government-issued devices to post on the platform. His office has not answered multiple requests for comment.
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