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TikTok responds to Donald Trump's pledge to ban the app

The president said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order.

Image: PA

Updated Sat 1:50 PM

VIDEO SHARING APP TikTok has responded to President Donald Trump’s pledge to ban it in the US, saying there are “strict controls” on user data. 

Trump told reporters that he would take action as early as today to ban the popular Chinese-owned video app that has been a source of national security and censorship concerns.

He told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”

The president said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, “I have that authority” before adding: “It’s going to be signed tomorrow.” 

Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could soon announce a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.

There have been reports of US tech giants and financial firms being interested in buying or investing in TikTok as the Trump administration sets its sights on the app.

The New York Times and Fox Business, citing an unidentified source, reported Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok. Microsoft declined to comment.

In a statement this afternoon, TikTok touted its US workforce and US investor base.

“These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform,” the company said. 

TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.

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History

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the US and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

TikTok’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and US tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat.

But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about the censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials.

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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