Director Of National Intelligence Includes China’s TikTok Among Its Top Threats To National Security
JAPAN - 2023/04/16: In this photo illustration, mobile phone displays TikTok logo with the flag of the People's Republic of China in the background.
Stanislav Kogiku / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence included TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party-controlled company ByteDance, in its annual threat assessment.

The news comes as House Members are set to vote this week on legislation that would force TikTok’s parent company to sell TikTok or face being banned in the U.S.

TikTok desperately tried to stop the legislation last week by sending out push notifications to users urging them to call and harass their congressional representatives and demand that they not pass the bill. Members of Congress strongly rejected TikTok’s malign attempt to influence U.S. policy and voted 50-0 to move the legislation forward for a full vote in the House on Wednesday.

The unclassified report reflects the collective insights of the Intelligence Community (IC) and only “focuses on the most direct, serious threats to the United States primarily during the next year,” the report states.

The report highlighted numerous threats that communist China poses to the U.S., including economic, technology, weapons of mass destruction, military, space, cyber, intelligence operations, and malign influence operations.

In the domain of malign influence operations, China is seeking to “sow doubts about U.S. leadership, undermine democracy, and extend Beijing’s influence,” the report said. “Beijing’s information operations primarily focus on promoting pro-China narratives, refuting U.S.- promoted narratives, and countering U.S. and other countries’ policies that threaten Beijing’s interests, including China’s international image, access to markets, and technological expertise.”

The report said that China is using social media to “exploit perceived U.S. societal divisions” to sow chaos and discord amongst Americans.

“China is demonstrating a higher degree of sophistication in its influence activity, including experimenting with generative AI,” the report said. “TikTok accounts run by a PRC propaganda arm reportedly targeted candidates from both political parties during the U.S. midterm election cycle in 2022.”

The report warned that China will likely try to interfere in the 2024 elections “because of its desire to sideline critics of China and magnify U.S. societal divisions.”

“PRC actors’ have increased their capabilities to conduct covert influence operations and disseminate disinformation,” the section concluded. “Even if Beijing sets limits on these activities, individuals not under its direct supervision may attempt election influence activities they perceive are in line with Beijing’s goals.”

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