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Top Democratic Rep. Thompson joins Chinese-owned TikTok despite voting to keep app off DHS devices

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson encouraged his supporters to follow his newly created TikTok account despite warnings from numerous officials that it poses a national security risk and a vote from Thompson in March to ban Department of Homeland Security employees from using the platform.

“Follow my new account on TikTok. (benniegthompson),” the Mississippi Democrat, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and the Jan. 6 Select Committee tweeted on July 1.

Thompson’s verified account has not yet posted any videos and has 54 followers as of Friday afternoon.

Thompson’s entrance onto the TikTok platform comes months after he supported a motion via voice vote on the House Homeland Security Committee to ban Department of Homeland Security employees from using or downloading the China based app.

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Thompson’s move to TikTok also came days after FCC commissioner Brendan Carr urged Apple and Google to remove the app from their platforms due to the potential national security risk it poses by potentially allowing the Chinese government to access user data.

“TikTok is not what it appears to be on the surface. It is not just an app for sharing funning videos or memes. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr wrote. “At its core, TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.” 

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TikTok, available to millions of Americans through Apple and Google online stores, is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, an organization that Carr asserts is “behold to the Communist Party of China and required by Chinese law to comply with the PRC’s surveillance demands.” 

This week, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate reports that TikTok allowed engineers and executives in China to access private data of U.S. users.

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A view of the TikTok app logo, in Tokyo.  

“It is beyond time to ban TikTok. Everyone knows that the app places millions of Americans’ data at risk, and the Biden Administration has no excuse not to act,” Rubio told Fox News Digital on Friday.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is required under Chinese law to share its data with the Chinese Communist Party whenever requested.

TikTok, in a statement to Business Insider last month, defended its data sharing practices. 

“As we’ve publicly stated, we’ve brought in world class internal and external security experts to help us strengthen our data security efforts. This is standard industry practice given the complexity of data security challenges,” the company’s statement said.

Homeland Security Committee Vice Ranking Member Rep. Michael Guest, who sponsored the push to prohibit DHS employees from using TikTok, told Fox News Digital in a statement that his legislation was aimed at addressing the threat China poses to the United States. 

“TikTok poses a real and immediate threat to the American public and U.S. national security, as a massive technical collection platform operated at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Guest said. 

“This has been further confirmed by recent reporting that TikTok user data is accessible by China and by extension the CCP. For this reason, I introduced legislation, that was passed by the Homeland Security Committee in a bipartisan manner, to combat this very threat, prohibiting TikTok from being downloaded on all DHS devices. China poses the greatest 50 year threat to the homeland and we must address it head-on before it’s too late.”

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., meets with the select committee on the Jan. 6 attack. 

Thompson’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.

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