Trump administration considering "banning TikTok"

Clay Curtis
August 1, 2020

President Donald Trump has announced that he will sign a decree banning TikTok in the United States today.

Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, "I have that authority".

The news of Trump banning the app, which is especially popular with teenagers, has sparked a meme fest on Twitter.

Trump threatened to ban the app while speaking to reporters before leaving for Florida earlier in the day, but did not commit to any specific actions, saying, "We're looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok". The decision comes after TikTok has been scrutinized over the a year ago by both US lawmakers and regulators, who have questioned whether the app poses a national security threat due to its data collection practices and close ties to the Chinese government. "We may be banning TikTok" adding that his government is "looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok".

Some critics believe TikTok, the Chinese-owned online video app, could be sharing information with the Chinese government and facilitating espionage.

Reuters reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the matter, that Microsoft is in exploratory deal talks as the USA government prepares to force China-based ByteDance to divest its video app TikTok over data security concerns. The deal allows another company besides Microsoft to operate TikTok in the United States.

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For Microsoft, acquiring TikTok might be the long-awaited victory they missed out on after Mark Zuckerberg declined to sell Facebook back in 2007. ByteDance originally bought US-based Musical.ly Inc in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, creating a social-media hit in the USA - the first Chinese app to make such inroads.

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. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

The platform has hundreds of employees in the USA and recently hired Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, as chief executive, according to the Post. TikTok has an estimated billion users globally.

The company has denied allegations that it shares user data with the Chinese government.

United States tech giants such as Facebook and Snapchat have come to see the Chinese-made platform as a competitive threat. TikTok has denied both claims, saying it doesn't censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to US user data. The U.S. will not only ban hardware companies like Huawei, it will also prohibit Chinese software companies. Washington has been investigating potential national security risks due to the Chinese company's control of the app.

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