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Katko, House Republicans to TikTok: Stop Allowing Cartel Activity on Platform

May 7, 2021

Katko, House Republicans to TikTok: Stop Allowing Cartel Activity on Platform

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and 29 House Republicans blasted TikTok for failing to adequately address cartel activity on the platform during an escalating crisis on the southwest border.

In a letter to TikTok CEO Shouzi Chew, the members detailed how the TikTok platform is being leveraged by Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs), including cartels facilitating illicit activity across the U.S.–Mexico border.

“We are deeply troubled by media reports that cartels are brazenly recruiting people to conduct smuggling and other illicit activity via TikTok,” wrote the members. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) faces mounting challenges associated with stemming the flow of irregular migration into the country, and the recruitment and advertisement of smuggling activity on these platforms is exacerbating an increasingly untenable situation for frontline law enforcement personnel, as well as the vulnerable migrant populations being exploited, during a pandemic.”

“Separately, we are seriously concerned about a post identified by law enforcement that members have reviewed in which an armed cartel member was stalking and threatening Border Patrol Agents. It appears that via your platform cartel members are openly glorifying and normalizing illegal behavior and violence to recruit new members, most recently American teenagers,” continued the members. “All of these activities are in direct violation of TikTok’s Terms of Service.”

Given the degree of control and moderation TikTok retains, the members noted that TikTok should be able to eradicate this illegal activity from the platform.

The members requested information in writing regarding TikTok’s current capabilities and efforts to combat illicit activity perpetuated by TCOs on the platform and content actively threatening the safety and well-being of DHS law enforcement officers, as well as mechanisms TikTok uses to engage with federal agencies to block the soliciting of users for smuggling activities along the southwest border.

Read the full letter here.