When TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies in Congress on Thursday, he plans to unveil new internal data that shows that the popular video sharing app is more enmeshed in Americans' daily lives than anyone realizes.
Around 100 million people in the US are regular users of the app, according to TikTok. According to a senior Democratic strategist who advises TikTok, he will say that number has reached 150 million when Chew testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The number of monthly active users in the US has gone up by 50% over the past three years, suggesting that the app has become even more established in the U.S. over the past three years that Washington has struggled with how to rein it in.
Lawmakers from both parties and the White House argue that TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, poses a threat to national security because Beijing could use it to influence U.S. public opinion or gain access to Americans data for nefarious purposes, such as spying.
In December, President Joe Biden signed a spending bill that banned TikTok from U.S. government devices. The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating TikTok and ByteDance, including allegations that company employees spied on journalists.
Chew's testimony came as efforts in Washington to ban TikTok in the U.S. have reached a fever pitch. Biden supports a bipartisan bill that could do just that, and his administration recently told TikTok that either its Chinese owners sell their stakes in the company or the app could face a U.S. ban.
His first appearance before Congress will mark TikTok's most high-profile showdown with lawmakers to date, and the app plans to lean on users, deemed creators, to counter efforts to ban it as well as to critics that it is a national security threat.