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Trump says he will ban TikTok in the US

August 1, 2020

US President Donald Trump could soon order Chinese company ByteDance to sell its video app TikTok, sources close to the matter have said. Tech giant Microsoft allegedly wants to buy the platform.

The video-editing app TikTok on the homescreen of a phone
Image: picture-alliance/F. May

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would ban the popular social media app TikTok, hours after rumors had circulated about possible government actions against it. 

"As far as TikTok is concerned, we're banning them from the United States," Trump told reporters on Air Force One, on his way back to the White House from Florida. 

Trump added that he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, "I have that authority." He added, "It's going to be signed tomorrow." 

Multiples reports around the popular social media app emerged earlier with reports that tech giant Microsoft is in talks to acquire it.

The Trump administration earlier this week put TikTok — a video editing and sharing app popular with young people — under formal review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US (CFIUS) amid fears China could use the service for spying.

Read more: What is China's world order for the 21st century?

How Does TikTok Make Money?

Microsoft makes moves to buy

The news coincided with reports that Washington-based tech behemoth Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok from its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance.

Microsoft is currently negotiating the purchase of TikTok's US business, sources familiar with the matter told the New York Times

The TikTok saga is the latest in a story of ever-growing tension between China and the US. A conflict that originally focused on trade disagreements has since developed into a broader dispute that now includes such issues as Hong Kong sovereignty, Beijing's treatment of its Muslim minority population, and increased US scrutiny of Chinese tech firms.

Which Topics are Hot on TikTok?

TikTok 'confident' in its future

The Beijing-based app is wildly popular with younger demographics that use it to edit, share and view short-form videos. TikTok has an estimated billion users globally.

TikTok on Friday issued a statement on the developments, saying, "While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok."

US tech giants such as Facebook and Snapchat have come to see the Chinese-made platform as a competitive threat. In the US, TikTok has tens of millions of registered users. 

For the US government, the platform's Chinese ownership has raised concerns about the censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government or supportive of causes such as democracy in Hong Kong. 

Critics also warn about the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials. 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. 

kp,jcg/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)