TikTok users have responded to the recent congressional debate over whether the app should be banned the only way they know how: Making fancams of CEO Shou Zi Chew.
On March 23, Chew testified before Congress after months of campaigns for the platform, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, to be banned in the U.S. The government has still not announced a final decision on whether TikTok will be banned, despite officials expressing concerns about data-sharing with the Chinese government.
Chew seems to have won over social media with his performance during the five-hour testimony — with many users pointing out how frustrating it was to watch Chew respond to certain members of Congress who didn’t seem to have a basic understanding of how the app operated.
A TikTok spokesperson told In The Know, “Shou came prepared to answer questions from Congress, but, unfortunately, the day was dominated by political grandstanding that failed to acknowledge the real solutions already underway through Project Texas or productively address industrywide issues of youth safety.”
The fancam reaction for Chew is interesting, especially compared to other tech founders who have appeared in front of Congress. (Although it’s worth noting there is rarely any logic nor reasoning behind why a person gets a fancam edit, including Franz Kafka.) Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has been in front of Congress twice — in 2018 and 2021 — and even has spoken about data management for Facebook. But the public’s perception of Zuckerberg has never been very favorable, especially to the younger generation.
Chew has otherwise kept a low public profile, with BuzzFeed reporting that he only had 18,000 TikTok followers as of March 22. His account now boasts 536,000 followers and commenters have flooded his videos with words of support.
His most recently uploaded TikTok — his view of Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime performance, which is authentic Gen Z fodder — shows hundreds of comments reading “I LOVE YOU” and “WE STAND WITH YOU! THANK YOU FOR DEFENDING US!”
As with most “stan” culture figures, TikTok users have also pivoted to romanticizing Chew even beyond the fancams. In a video Chew posted in August 2022, in which he participated in the teenage dirtbag trend, new comments from as recent as two days ago read things like, “if TIKTOK is bad, why is the CEO fine?” and “u can take all my data and sell it to whoever u want.”
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