US President Donald Trump announced Monday he would approve of Microsoft or any major US company buying the social media app TikTok. Trump also threatened to ban the app in the US if an acquisition deal is not arranged by September 15.
Trump told reporters at the White House that TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, "will be out of business in the United States" without a sale to a "secure" US company by the date in question. He said he does not mind if Microsoft makes the purchase.
"You can't be controlled, for security reasons, by China. Too big, too invasive," Trump added.
The president also said he wants the deal to benefit the US Treasury. He said he had talked with Microsoft's chief executive and believes that a total buy-out of the app, rather than the 30% figure mentioned by Microsoft, would be "easier."
Despite previously being critical of the app, Trump conceded Monday that "the brand was hot" and that TikTok was a "great asset."
Washington claims that TikTok is a security threat — and its use has already been banned by the military. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said there was a "broad array of security concerns."
"Could be their facial recognition patterns. It could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they're connected to. Those are the issues that President Trump has made clear we're going to take care of," Pompeo said.
TikTok is an app that allows users to create short videos and is particularly popular with teens and young people.
Bytedance and has come under fire by some commentators who say the app collects a great amount of personal data from its users.
Trump first announced he was considering banning the app last week, and Microsoft said Sunday they were in talks with TikTok about buying the platform.
ed/stb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)