President Donald Trump said he will take action ‘as soon as Saturday’ to ban TikTok from the US.
It comes after United States intelligence bosses fear the popular Chinese-owned video app presents a possible national security risk. US Government officials and workers at many corporations have been banned from downloading it onto work phones for fear their data will be transmitted back to China’s communist government.
Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida: ‘As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.
The president said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, ‘I have that authority,’ before adding: ‘It’s going to be signed tomorrow.’
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The US president said earlier this month he was considering a TikTok ban to ‘get back at China’ for the coronavirus pandemic.
The app hit the headlines in June after its users – most of whom are in their teens and early 20s – tried to sabotage Mr Trump’s first post-pandemic rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by requesting tickets they had no intention of using.
Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could soon announce a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.
There have been reports of US tech giants and financial firms being interested in buying or investing in TikTok as the Trump administration sets its sights on the app.
The New York Times and Fox Business, citing an unidentified source, reported Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok. Microsoft declined to comment.
TikTok issued a statement Friday saying that, ‘While we do not comment on rumours or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.’
ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the US and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.
TikTok is hugely popular among Americans, and has 80 million users in the US, the majority of whom are younger users heavily valued by advertisers. It allows users to create and edit short videos complete with music, sound effects and graphics.
TikTok’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and US tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat.
Social networking rival Snap Inc – the parent company of Snapchat – saw its share price rise by 2% amid rumours of Mr Trump’s sell-off order.
Former Walt Disney Company CEO Kevin Mayer was also hired to run TikTok’s US operation in May in a bid to further bolster the company’s credibility.
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