Trump Says He’ll Ban TikTok From Operating in the US

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump continues a threat he’s made several times this week

Last Updated: August 1, 2020 @ 12:45 PM

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters that he intends to ban the popular social media app TikTok from operating inside the United States, a continuation of remarks he’s made throughout the week about the app.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. Trump added, “I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.”

Trump indicated that he would likely sign the order on Saturday.

The decision to ban the service entirely seems to have been reached late in the day. Earlier Friday, Bloomberg reported that Trump was considering an executive order that would demand that TikTok’s Beijing-based corporate owner, ByteDance, divest ownership of the app and sell it to an American company.

Microsoft quickly emerged as the top contender to acquire the video sharing service; however, Trump told reporters late Friday that he didn’t support such a sale. It was not clear if Trump objected specifically to Microsoft’s involvement or just to any such deal.

Even before Friday, TikTok has faced heavy scrutiny in the United States. Critics contend that the app doubles as a data collection tool for China’s authoritarian government. TikTok denies sharing user data with Chinese authorities, but Stratechery’s Ben Thompson recently pointed out TikTok’s privacy policy explicitly says it “may share” user information “with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of our corporate group,” which, based on how companies operate in China, literally includes the government.

Earlier this week, Trump said he was “looking at” taking action against TikTok; it was unclear if he meant banning TikTok outright at the time. On Tuesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden also prohibited his staffers from using TikTok on both their personal and work devices.

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