U.S. President Donald Trump says he’ll be taking action as soon as Saturday, to ban a popular video-sharing app that has been the source of international scrutiny for months.
TikTok is a smartphone app that become massively popular with celebrities, politicians and everyday people since it launched in 2017.
However ByteDance, the company that runs TikTok, has been under a magnifying glass over how they treat user data and private information.
Hundreds of millions of people use the app both inside and outside of China, where it is known as Douyin.
U.S. tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see the company’s meteoric rise as a potential threat to their businesses.
But perhaps more concerning is the allegations of video censorship– especially videos that are seen as critical of the Chinese government.
Others have accused ByteDance of sharing potentially sensitive data with Chinese officials.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” said President Trump on Friday.
Trump says he could use an executive order or emergency economic powers to enforce the ban, adding that “[the ban] is going to be signed by tomorrow.”
Earlier on Friday, reports swirled that Washington-based Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, although the American software giant declined to comment.
That’s something Trump doesn’t want to see.
For their part, TikTok says they don’t censor videos based on topics that are sensitive to China, adding that it wouldn’t give any American data to the Chinese government, even if they were asked.
In an attempt to distance itself from it’s increasingly troublesome foreign ownership, the company has hired a former Disney executive to act as their “U.S. CEO.”
Some observers see the latest move by the Trump administration as part of a broader effort to crack down on Chinese tech companies, which some officials see as security threats.
Those companies include telecom providers Huawei and ZTE, which are also raising eyebrows in other countries, including Canada.
For months, U.S. government employees and armed forces members have been told to not install TikTok on any government devices.
India has also banned a suite of Chinese-made apps this month, including TikTok.
On Saturday morning, TikTok posted a video statement to their U.S. Twitter page, saying they are “not going anywhere.”
A message to the TikTok community. pic.twitter.com/UD3TR2HfEf
— TikTok (@tiktok_us) August 1, 2020