Trump says he will ban TikTok from operating in the US
President Trump on Friday said he plans to ban the social media platform TikTok from operating in the United States.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The president said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order as early as Saturday to officially ban the Chinese-owned company from the U.S. He signaled he was not supportive of allowing an American company to acquire TikTok.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to Trump’s threat by citing the U.S. investment in and involvement with the app, including roughly 100 million American users and nearly 1,000 people hired to the company’s U.S. team this year.
“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Trump’s announcement came hours after reports that Microsoft was in talks to purchase TikTok from Beijing-based company ByteDance. That report emerged around the same time news outlets reported that Trump was considering signing an executive order requiring ByteDance to divest the U.S. portion of TikTok because of concerns that the company may be giving sensitive U.S. data collected through the app to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
TikTok has become wildly popular with young people and has hundreds of millions of users worldwide. The app often allows users to watch and create short videos featuring audio and other effects. The videos often go viral across other social media platforms.
Trump administration officials have for weeks floated taking action against TikTok because of its connections to China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made similar comments earlier this month, announcing that the Trump administration was considering banning Chinese apps, including TikTok, because of national security concerns.
The Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States opened an investigation into ByteDance last year, while the House approved legislation last week banning the use of TikTok on federal devices.
Senators have also asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into TikTok and have separately raised concerns the app could be used by the CCP to interfere in U.S. elections.
TikTok has pushed back against claims that it censors content and shares data with the CCP and attempted to distance itself from China. The company hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to serve as CEO earlier this year and relocated American data storage to the United States.
Updated Aug. 1 at 9:19 a.m.