- President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday night that he is banning the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok from the US.
- “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Friday, according to a pool report from the Los Angeles Times’ David Cloud.
- Trump asserted he had the “authority” to do so “with an executive order or that,” according to Cloud’s pool report. However, it’s unclear whether Trump can ban the app completely.
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President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he is banning the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok from the US using his “presidential authority.”
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Friday, according to a pool report from the Los Angeles Times’ David Cloud.
Trump told reporters he planned to take action “as soon as Saturday.”
According to the pool report, Trump asserted he has the “authority” to ban TikTok “with an executive order or that.” However, it’s unclear what authority he has to ban the app completely in the US.
Representatives from the White House did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The Trump administration has publicly been threatening to ban TikTok since early July, citing concerns about the app’s ties to China and the foreign government’s access to user data and content moderationthrough its parent company, ByteDance. TikTok has repeatedly insisted it would never provide any data if the Chinese government asked.
Trump’s quip to reporters on Friday night comes hours after reports surfaced Trump was planning to issue an executive order instructing TikTok’s parent company to “divest” from the viral app’s operations in the US. According to a 1988 law, Trump has the authority to block foreign business deals pertaining to US companies if he deems it a national security threat. Trump has twice previously used this authority to block deals in which tech corporations from China and Singapore were poised to take over US-based companies.
Microsoft quickly emerged as a potential buyer of TikTok’s US operations. The company is reportedly in “advanced talks” of the sale, which “could eliminate potential legal challenges — and public backlash — that could have occurred if the wildly popular app was forced off millions of American smartphones,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s unclear how TikTok or ByteDance would respond to either of the president’s directives, but issuing an executive order would represent an escalation in the Trump administration’s attacks on TikTok and other Chinese tech companies.
In an earlier statement to Business Insider, a TikTok representative said that the company did not comment “on rumors or speculation” and that it was “confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
“Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform,” TikTok said in its statement. “We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
TikTok came to the US in 2018, and has since found an energetic and growing base of as many as 80 million users. The app, which has more than 2.3 billion downloads worldwide, was most recently valued at a whopping $30 billion to $50 billion.
TikTok’s China ties have attracted more attention in recent months as the president and administration officials have said they’re weighing a ban on the app. Trump has said a ban would be a way to punish China over its role in the coronavirus pandemic, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited national-security concerns.
The resulting uncertainty in TikTok’s future has reportedly led ByteDance executives and investors to explore alternatives to avoid a US ban. Earlier this month, a group of ByteDance’s US investors, including Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, were looking into buying a majority stake in TikTok, according to The Information. But The Information reported Friday that those talks had failed, because of concerns that such a takeover “wouldn’t pass muster with the Trump administration.”