President Donald Trump has reportedly confirmed to the media he imminently plans to ban TikTok – a Chinese-owned app – from the US.
According to several reports, Trump told reporters during an Air Force One flight en route to Washington DC on 31 July 2020 that he would ban the app. “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said. “I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.”
TikTok is used to create and share videos. Ceators can leverage the app’s vast catalogue of sound effects, music, and filters to record short clips of themselves dancing and lip-syncing. There’s an untold number of videos to discover, all on varying topics. There are DIY and craft videos, comedy, you name it.
If TikTok sounds familiar, it’s because there are similar apps that came before it, like Vine and Dubsmash. TikTok also had a predecessor, called Musical.ly, which Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang launched in 2014. ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, and then a year later, it folded the service’s core functionality and userbase into its own TikTok app. Existing Musical.ly users were migrated over to TikTok accounts.
By 2018, TikTok had surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly installs in the US Apple App Store and Google Play Store. It has over one billion global monthly active users. As a result, ByteDance is now considered the world’s most valuable startup, with a valuation of more than $105 billion.
ByteDance maintains that US user data is stored in the US and TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. It also claims to be hiring 10,000 US employees. And it’s attempted to disassociate itself from its roots, withdrawing the app from Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s controversial national security law.
Trump’s comments on Friday follow reports from earlier in the day about Microsoft being in talks to buy the app. According to CNBC News, Trump indicated during his flight with reporters that he didn’t support Microsoft buying TikTok from ByteDance. Keep in mind TikTok has been under the glare of the US for weeks. Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has discussed banning the app. “We are taking this very seriously,” Pompeo told Fox News.
He also warned US citizens to be cautious when using TikTok, as their private data ends up “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.