US President Donald Trump has vowed to prohibit the Chinese-owned video sharing platform TikTok in the United States, saying that he might do this via an executive order the next day, amid allegations of IP theft by Beijing.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on board Air Force One on Friday, according to NBC News, adding that he may do so as early as Saturday. Trump indicated that he might use an executive order or invoke emergency powers to effect the ban.
I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.
The proposal comes just hours after reports earlier on Friday that Microsoft was involved in talks to acquire the video app from Chinese firm ByteDance, a purchase Trump has reportedly opposed. Both Microsoft and ByteDance declined to comment on the matter, however.
The news of Trump banning the app, which is especially popular with teenagers, has sparked a meme fest on Twitter.
Netizens have been mourning the careers of American TikTok “influencers,” potentially unemployed within 24 hours from now, predicting an influx of social media-savvy teens to other platforms, such as YouTube.
Tiktok creators making one last tik tok before it gets banned. #TikTokBanpic.twitter.com/6NtGE91T5b
influencers at the unemployment office after tiktok is banned: pic.twitter.com/dGpZsKbMpT
Tiktok stars rushing to make a yt: pic.twitter.com/TZn2leFzrv
The president had hinted at a ban previously, including on Friday morning, telling reporters at the White House that the administration “may be” banning the platform, noting “there’s a couple options… we’re looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.” He has repeatedly expressed concern about TikTok and other Chinese entities grabbing American data, a talking point that’s increasingly gained traction in the Oval Office, also used to justify the closure of a Chinese consulate earlier this month.
The app has proven controversial outside of government as well, with Amazon asking employees to stop using it earlier this month, citing “security risks.” A company spokesperson later clarified that the internal directive was “sent in error,” however, and that Amazon’s policy on the platform had not changed. The incident nonetheless highlighted broader concerns about the app, which was found to surreptitiously access “clipboard content” on Apple devices last month, possibly revealing sensitive information such as passwords. The company had previously acknowledged the practice in 2019, but said it would stop.
Tensions have soared between Washington and Beijing in recent months, as the Trump administration steps up an offensive on China in both policy and rhetoric. Amid a lingering trade spat that nearly escalated into a tariff war last year, the US has also taken aim at Chinese telecom Huawei, arguing the company is a threat to American intellectual property. Both Huawei representatives and Chinese officials have argued the move is merely a way to drive a Chinese competitor from the American market, using ‘security’ as a pretext.
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