SPOKANE, Wash -- Personal data, influence, and misinformation, the battle to ban TikTok took center stage in Washington D.C on Thursday.
Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers lead the push to ban the social media app, saying China can't be trusted with American data.
"TikTok has repeatedly chosen the path for more control, more surveillance and more manipulation," Rodgers said. "Your platform should be banned."
The CFO of ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, and TikTok's CEO Shou Zi Chew took the stand in Congress, arguing that a Texas-based company stores the data of the millions of American users, but Bytedance employees based in China still have access to that data.
Percy Simpson, runs 'Percy's Purradise,' a Tiktok account that has more than 230 thousand followers. She posts videos raising awareness about pet care, featuring pets from Spokanimal.
"When I post a Tiktok and it has such a far reach, I'm really not expecting that but it's so cool," Simpson said.
It's allowed her to make an impact locally.
"I've adopted to people in town as well, literally that live like down the street," she said.
Dr. David Vosen is a cybersecurity professor at Spokane Falls Community College. He's also a parent with a teenager that uses the app.
"One of the things that we don't think about with our social media platforms, is that if they're free, we're the product, meaning our data, how we use our data, is being sold in one form or another," he said.
Dr. Vosen explains legislators are worried about the app because it ultimately decides what a user watches.
"Who controls the algorithm controls the platform, so in terms of influence you can say that China right now has that influenceability if it wanted to use it," he said.
Vosen recommends if you want to protect your data, ditch the phone, and talk to your kids.
"Phones are a treasure trove of private, and personal data, and I would say that would be one of my number one recommendation, is use it on a computer," Dr. Vosen said. "We need to trust in our leadership nationally to make a decision about how that algorithm is used, how that data is being stored, where it's being stored, those are bigger conversations."
Simpson says app or no app, her real passion is the animals.
"I do kind of love my little niche on TikTok, so I really would be bummed if it disappeared," Simpson said. "Animals aren't going to disappear, we're always going to need animal care, so I'm confident that I will have places to go."
Rania Kaur is a multimedia journalist and producer at 4 News Now. Previously a reporter at KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, Louisiana, she reported on two catastrophic hurricanes, a winter storm, historic flooding and the pandemic. She stumbled into journalism after being a biochemistry major at Seattle University and immediately fell in love. Originally from Kent, Washington, her favorite things about Spokane are the weather, the parks and the people — she can’t wait to meet more of you. If you see her around say hi! She loves a good restaurant, so if you have any recommendations feel free to tell her. In her free time, you can catch her cheering for the Seahawks, binging Netflix, reading a book at a new coffee shop, or practicing Kirtan at the Gurdwara (ask her what that means)! If you have a story idea, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.