Whitmer defends use of TikTok as ‘communication tool’

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Sunday defended her use of the video-sharing app TikTok, owned by China-based company ByteDance, as a “communication tool” amid concerns about Beijing’s influence on the app.

“We use TikTok on one device that has nothing else on it. It is a communication tool. We don’t do it because it’s fun, although some people think what I put out there can be fun on occasion. My kids disagree,” Whitmer told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” prompting Tapper to quip, “I don’t buy that you don’t have fun doing TikToks.”

“We have it on one device that has no access to anything else because so many people get their information that way. Whether we like it or not, that is a tool for disseminating important information. And that’s how we use it,” Whitmer said.

Researchers and lawmakers have long debated the health risks of social media use, but TikTok has come under particular scrutiny due to the concerns about its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

The app was banned from congressional lawmakers’ phones because of perceived security risks, but Whitmer remains active on the platform.

The Michigan governor on Sunday acknowledged privacy concerns about TikTok and worries about social media more broadly.

“I’m concerned about a lot of ways that social media is curated and drags people down rabbit holes in this country,” Whitmer said.

“We need to have some congressional measures taken to ensure that there is some integrity in it. But also we got to teach our kids that this is not a real robust offering of information for you to distill and make your own decisions. This is biased and it can be incredibly taxing.”

Whitmer, who had been a rumored 2024 potential presidential contender, said Sunday that she’s focused on her term as Michigan governor — though she didn’t specifically rule out making a run in races further into the future.

Updated at 10:20 a.m.

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