Congressman Ridiculed Over TikTok WiFi Question

Some think he has no idea how internet access works, others think he has a point
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2023 12:28 AM CDT

TikTok users took to—what else—TikTok during the social media app CEO's congressional appearance Thursday to mock lawmakers who seemed like, as some called them, "embarrassing" "corpses" who are too old and "out-of-touch" to have any idea how technology works. One of the questions being most widely mocked came from Richard Hudson, a Republican representing North Carolina, who asked Shou Zi Chew, "does TikTok access the home WiFi network?" A visibly confused Chew replied, "Only if the user turns on the WiFi. I'm sorry, I may not understand the question." Hudson continued, "So if I have the TikTok app on my phone and my phone is on my home WiFi network, does TikTok access that network?" Still seeming confused, Chew answered, "It would have to ... access the network to get connections to the internet, if that's the question."

Mashable says Hudson's question was "inherently confusing," and many commenters on social media wondered if Hudson has no idea how internet access works. Insider points out that "most apps ... require network access to be used." But Hudson's follow-up question was, "Is it possible, then, that it could access other devices on that home WiFi network?" And some on Reddit pointed out that Hudson may actually have been backing into a completely valid question: "The first question obviously sounds moronic by itself. But it has to be asked to to establish the second question which is extremely relevant," wrote one. Others concurred: "It's a legitimate question to know if TikTok app has the ability to access other devices on the WiFi such as Ring, Echo, laptops, computers, smartphones etc.," reads another sample response.

Also making Mashable's list of wackiest moments from the hearing was Rep. Buddy Carter; the Georgia Republican appeared convinced that TikTok was collecting biometric data from users, specifically, the way their pupils dilate while watching a video (an idea Mashable called "inherently silly"). The New Republic also came up with a similar list, and included on it Rep. Randy Weber of Texas ("TikTok is indoctrinating our children with divisive, woke, and pro-CCP propaganda.") and Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida, who shared a TikTok video threatening the House committee that was holding the hearing, wondering why it hadn't been banned. The answer was likely because it had extremely low engagement (just one comment) and started getting a lot more attention after Cammack shared it during the hearing; the account in question was banned within minutes. (More TikTok stories.)

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