Internet

Congress may not have the TikTok CEO’s comeback, but the internet sure does

Wall Street says TikTok CEO Shaw Zichu had a “disaster” day in Congress, but the Internet loves him.
Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images; OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

  • On Thursday, TikTok CEO Zhou Zichu appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  • Wall Street criticized Chu’s testimony, calling it a “moment of disaster” for TikTok.
  • However, the Internet reacted differently. he was applauded, embraced and even compared to Pedro Pascal.

TikTok CEO Zhou Ziqiu testified before Congress on Thursday as calls for a forced sale of his business in the US or a nationwide ban gather momentum.

The hearing quickly turned into a bloodbath of yes-or-no questions from politicians on both sides of the aisle, some of whom didn’t seem interested in hearing the executive’s full answers, Insider’s Dan Whately and Aaron Mock write.

The idea behind the hearing was that TikTok, an app that says it has 150 million monthly active users in the U.S., or nearly half the country’s population, was an opportunity to ease lawmakers’ concerns about the social media app’s data privacy policies and its connections. : to China through its parent company, Bytedance.

Instead, the testimony drew criticism from Wall Street.

Dan Eaves, Wedbush analyst, wrote in the report On Thursday, the testimony was a moment of “disaster” that is likely to lead to more calls from lawmakers and the White House to seek to ban TikTok in the US unless the company tries to spinoff and force a sale from Chinese parent ByteDance. “.

“I don’t think he made any new friends today and changed his mind,” said Matthew Schettenhelm, senior litigation and government analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

But excerpts of the testimony also went viral on TikTok with people mocked the lawsuit and said lawmakers don’t know the app well enough to sue it.

And soon the Internet was eating Chew out of his hand.

Wall Street criticized Chu’s testimony. The internet is a different story.

Chu, who was born and raised in Singapore, has an MBA from Harvard, interned at Facebook when it was still a startup, and previously worked at Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. He was appointed CEO of TikTok in May 2021. Since his appointment, Qiu, 40, has been battling allegations of TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and data privacy.

Support for Chew and TikTok began to prepare before auditions began.

“I’m with TikTok,” said the popular creator of TikTok, which has nearly 42,000 followers. video shared on March 22.

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Unsurprisingly, most of Chew’s support is playing on his own TikTok accountwhere he goes by the handle @shou.time and has over 45,000 followers.

“Regardless of the outcome, thank you for creating such a platform for the world. The connection you gave us will not be forgotten,” read her latest comment with more than 1,000 likes. TikTok videoRihanna’s video at this year’s Super Bowl.

“I apologize to the US Congress. You are amazing,” read the comment with more than 800 likes. another video.

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Los Angeles-based fashion content creator Janet Ock posted a video met Chu on March 23. Most of the comments below the video are overwhelmingly in favor of Chew.

“That man became famous. I’m with Shaw,” read the comment, which has garnered more than 3,000 likes.

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And the support Chew has garnered isn’t limited to the business world.

There is even one fan-video editing CEO pictures with TikTok voice, usually used for celebrities who are thirsty for fans. The video has over 1.2 million views, over 215,000 likes and a number of comments expressing their approval of Chew.

“More edits from this person. Let’s give him the Pedro Pascal treatment,” said a comment with more than 12,400 likes, citing a link. the internet’s latest extreme celebrity crush.

“Dats my man, imma stand by him,” read another comment, which has more than 29,200 likes.

Why is the Internet loving Chew so much right now?

Two days before the congressional hearing, the official page of TikTok shared a rare video Chew while introducing yourself to people. In the video, Chu gave context to the audition and asked viewers to tell him what they liked about the app.

As of March 24, the video has garnered almost 2 million likes. Most of its 130,000 comments are positive.

Sharing the video was a brilliant marketing strategy that helped catapult the internet to Chu’s side, said Crystal Abidin, professor of internet studies at Curtin University. Founder of the TikTok Cultures Research Network. Abidin has been studying the app since 2018.

“In an open invitation for people to comment on what they like about the app, that was also a pretty smart PR strategy,” Abidin said.

He said Chu’s demeanor during the hearing also contributed to the positive reaction on the Internet. She described his answers as firm and neat, and said his composure was professional. Many of the social media responses that have gone viral, particularly from people of Asian-Pacific descent, have focused on how the interrogators’ tone was, by contrast, rude and condescending, Abidin said.

He added that unlike the cult of personality widely seen among Silicon Valley tech CEOs, Chu’s popularity “isn’t so much his celebrity cult.”

“I think this is one of the few times that a globally distributed app has as the face of the app, the CEO, a non-white American male,” he said, adding: he looks like he can hold his own.’

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