“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said while aboard Air Force One. The ban, he said, could arrive as soon as Saturday.
President Trump late Friday said he would ban Chinese-based TikTok from the United States, a move that end weeks of speculation about what actions the government might take against the short-form video and social media app.
For the past month, the Trump Administration has been weighing its options after declaring TikTok a threat to national security over concerns that the app might be sharing user data with the Chinese government.
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But as recently as Friday afternoon, it appeared that Trump might go in another direction and order TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok.
Microsoft MSFT +0.5% was reportedly one company interested in that acquisition, a surprising development that would put the tech giant into new competition with Facebook and Google GOOGL -3.3%’s YouTube.
Parts of the U.S. military has already banned the app from government phones over security concerns, and the Pentagon has urged its staff to do the same. In June, India issued its own country-wide ban following rising political tensions with China.
While on Air Force One, Trump said he didn’t favor letting ByteDance sell off TikTok like that. (The government earlier this year did something similar with Grindr, demanding its Chinese owners sell the gay dating app, which its owners then did.) For TikTok, Trump said he would use emergency economic powers or an executive order to ban the app.
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ByteDance bought the predecessor app, Musical.ly, to TikTok in 2017, then rebranded it and spun into the global phenomenon it has become.
It has been downloaded almost 2 billion times across the world, creating a new generation of young influencers and celebrities who’ve spent the past few weeks weighing what other platforms they might migrate to if TikTok was killed off in the U.S.
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