Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was criticized for defending TikTok after it was revealed the app’s Chinese-owned parent company gave six-figure donations to the Black and Hispanic caucus non-profits.
Fox News Digital previously reported that disclosures show ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, funneled six-figure contributions to nonprofits aligned with the congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses. ByteDance donated $150,000 to both the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Foundation in December, its lobbying contribution report shows.
Jake Denton, who handles tech policy for the Heritage Foundation, noted on Twitter Sunday that AOC is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) advisory council.
“What a coincidence!” Denton wrote, responding to Ocasio-Cortez’s video defense of TikTok initially shared Saturday.
TIKTOK CHINESE PARENT COMPANY FUNNELED SIX-FIGURE DONATIONS TO BLACK AND HISPANIC CAUCUS NONPROFITS
“Banning TikTok isn’t the solution to data privacy concerns,” the congresswoman tweeted. “Instead, Congress needs to focus on regulating social media companies’ unchecked habit of collecting user data without their consent.”
American Foreign Policy Council fellow Michael Sobolik said in her video, AOC echoes “TikTok’s talking points and ignores the app’s true threat: CCP-directed disinformation.”
“Extremely on brand for her to turn this into a ‘data privacy’ & social media issue, leave out the info control & influence argument, not factor in decades of documented CCP history and present a dumb case in a way that will resonate with her base,” University of Rochestor computer science and economics professor Sar Haribhakti also tweeted.
In her first video shared to TikTok, AOC reacted to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s first testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday.
Downplaying national security threat concerns voiced by U.S. lawmakers and members of the intelligence community, Ocasio-Cortez argued against banning TikTok and instead said it was more of a policy matter. She claimed the United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that has no significant data or privacy protection laws on the books.
“To me, the solution here is not to ban an individual company, but to actually protect Americans from this kind of egregious data harvesting that companies can do without your significant ability to say no,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the video, which had 3 million views on TikTok by Sunday midday. “And usually when the United States is proposing a very major move that has something to do with significant risk to national security, one of the first things that happens is that Congress receives a classified briefing. And I can tell you that Congress has not received a classified briefing around the allegations of national security risks regarding TikTok. So why would we be proposing a ban regarding such a significant issue without being clued in on this at all? It just doesn’t feel right to me.”
AOC RAILS AGAINST TIKTOK BAN IN FIRST VIDEO TO CHINESE-OWNED PLATFORM POSING NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT
“And additionally, this case needs to be made to the public. We are a government by the people and for the people, and if we want to make a decision as significant as banning TikTok, and we believe or someone believes that there’s really important information that the public deserves to know about why such a decision would be justified, that information should be shared with the public as well,” she said. “But frankly, I think a lot of this is putting the cart before the horse because our first priority should be in protecting your ability to exist without social media companies harvesting and commodifying every single piece of data about you without you and without your consent.”
February disclosures also show ByteDance also transferred smaller amounts of $75,000 to the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies in December and $35,000 to the right-leaning Ripon Society last summer.
The Beijing-based company reported the donations as honoring congressional members on the nonprofits’ aligned Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses, the disclosures show. Additionally, they honored the Ripon Society’s congressional advisory board, which includes numerous Republican lawmakers.
Fox News Digital reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional office Sunday but did not immediately hear back.
Fox News’ Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.
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