On Wednes­day, Sen. Mar­co Rubio (R‑FL) request­ed that the US gov­ern­ment con­duct a for­mal inves­ti­ga­tion into whether the pop­u­lar Chi­nese video app, Tik­Tok, pos­es a nation­al secu­ri­ty risk by cen­sor­ing con­tent that upsets lead­ers in Bei­jing.

“These Chi­nese-owned apps are increas­ing­ly being used to cen­sor con­tent and silence open dis­cus­sion on top­ics deemed sen­si­tive by the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment and Com­mu­ni­ty Par­ty,” Rubio claimed in a let­ter call­ing on the Trea­sury Department’s Com­mit­tee on For­eign Invest­ment in the Unit­ed States to con­duct a full review on the poten­tial nation­al secu­ri­ty risks posed by TikTok’s acqui­si­tion of Musical.ly.

CFIUS and ByteDance did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment.

It appears that Rubio is refer­ring to reports, like The Guardian’s from last month, out­lin­ing how TikTok’s mod­er­a­tors are instruct­ed to cen­sor videos of which the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment may not approve. These top­ics include con­tent that talks about Tianan­men Square, Tibetan inde­pen­dence, and Falun Gong.

In 2017, ByteDance, the par­ent com­pa­ny to Tik­Tok, acquired the pop­u­lar lip-sync­ing video app, Musical.ly. Tik­Tok had a grow­ing user base out­side of the Unit­ed States, but ByteDance was able to pur­chase a siz­able Amer­i­can audi­ence through its acqui­si­tion of Musical.ly. The two video apps merged togeth­er, total­ing around 1 bil­lion down­loads across the world.

In tweets on Wednes­day, Rubio also called on the Trump admin­is­tra­tion “to ful­ly enforce anti-boy­cott laws that pro­hib­it any US per­son — includ­ing US sub­sidiaries of Chi­nese com­pa­nies from com­ply­ing with for­eign boy­cotts seek­ing to coerce US com­pa­nies to con­form with #China’s gov­ern­ment views.”

Rubio’s call for a review fol­lows a week of retal­i­a­tion from Amer­i­can fans and con­sumers toward US-based orga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies like the Nation­al Bas­ket­ball Asso­ci­a­tion and game devel­op­er Bliz­zard. Over the week­end, a pro­fes­sion­al Hearth­stone play­er voiced sup­port for the Hong Kong protests in a post-game inter­view and Bliz­zard banned him from tour­na­ments for an entire year.

Epic Games, the devel­op­er of the pop­u­lar game Fort­nite, told The Verge that it would sup­port the polit­i­cal speech of its play­ers in response to the Bliz­zard back­lash.

Pho­to by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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