Trump says he will ban TikTok in United States
The president of US, Donald Trump, told reporters on Friday evening that he plans to ban the popular short-form video app TikTok in the United States through executive authority while flying home from Florida.
“We’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said to reporters while aboard Air Force One.
The app, which allows users to film and share short videos of themselves along to accompanying music, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
The relationship has caused the Trump administration, as well as lawmakers across both aisles, to accuse the app of being a security threat.
The president said he would sign something as soon as possible, without specifying whether he was going to act through an executive order.
“Well, I have that authority,” he said.
Trump called the decision “severance” and firmly rejected the reported spin off deal involving Microsoft buying TikTok.
When asked for comment, a TikTok spokesperson told ABC News: “These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic.”
The spokesperson further said to reporters: “We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our U.S. team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports U.S. creators who are building livelihoods from our platform.”
“TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform”, TikTok spokesperson added.
TikTok has an estimated 65 million to 80 million users in the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union, a New York City-based nonprofit advocacy organization, said banning an app like TikTok “is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical.”
ByteDance has been considering changes to its corporate structure and had reportedly already been looking into the possibility of selling a majority stake in TikTok.
Microsoft is in talks to acquire TikTok, according to the New York Times, citing a person with knowledge of the discussions. Microsoft declined to comment to CNN Business.
The app has exploded in popularity in the US and other western countries, becoming the first Chinese social media platform to gain significant traction with users outside of its home country.
The app was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of this year, more quarterly downloads than any other app in history, according to analytics company Sensor Tower.
Critics of TikTok worry that the data it collects on its US users could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, though TikTok has said it stores its data outside of China and that it would resist any attempts by Beijing to seize the information.
Cybersecurity experts have said TikTok’s potential risk to national security is largely theoretical and that there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok’s user data has been compromised by Chinese intelligence.