Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A TikTok logo is seen on a mobile device. Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As TikTok's popularity surges, the Chinese-owned karaoke app is facing rapidly rising headwinds from critics who paint it as a threat to individual users' privacy as well as a geopolitical stalking horse for Chinese interests.

The big picture: As my Axios colleague Sara Fischer reports, TikTok has now hit a milestone — among 13–16 year olds, it's more popular than Facebook.

Expand chart
Adapted from the Morning Consult's Influencer Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Success has brought the app into a harsher spotlight.

1. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who has been highly critical of U.S. tech companies' relationships with China, asked TikTok to appear on Capitol Hill at a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, and then left an empty chair when the company failed to show.

2. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) called TikTok "China's best detective" and pressed the company on children’s privacy and in-app purchases in a letter Tuesday.

  • Blackburn accused TikTok of "manipulating children's online purchases" through the sale of virtual gift emojis.

3. CFIUS: The U.S. agency charged with overseeing foreign investments is reportedly probing TikTok parent Bytedance's 2018 acquisition of Muscal.ly, a similar app that Bytedance purchased and renamed.

4. The Federal Trade Commission: Musical.ly agreed to a $5.7 million settlement earlier this year to resolve an FTC investigation into whether it had illegally collected children’s personal information.

Yes, but: TikTok's success with young creators and audiences is also winning it broader support from other tech companies.

  • Adobe, for example, announced this week it is adding the ability to directly export to TikTok as a new feature in the latest version of its Premiere Rush social video app.
  • "We see it as a leading platform for short-form video and there's a ton of creativity happening there," Adobe product chief Scott Belsky said in an interview.

What they're saying: In a blog post, TikTok said it has taken steps to assure independent decision-making, including basing its content moderation team in the U.S. and storing all U.S. user data outside of China.

"They want to be a global company, and numbers-wise, they've had that success. But the purse is still in China: The money always comes from there, and the decisions all come from there."
— a former ByteDance manager who left this year, to the Washington Post

Details: Denver-based Special Counsel performed a data storage and security audit commissioned by TikTok.

  • Doug Brush, the firm's VP of cybersecurity services, told Axios' Kim Hart that TikTok encrypts all data when it's stored and transmitted, and that U.S. residents' data was found to only hit U.S. servers.
  • "I would characterize them as an organization that does take security seriously and they have the right processes in place," Brush said.

The bottom line, from former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos: "It's trendy to pretend that concerns about Chinese tech domination are just a smoke screen by U.S. executives, but if you actually care about privacy, safety and content moderation then you need to pay attention to TikTok."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

3 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!