President Donald Trump has made good on his promises to ban TikTok -- sort of. On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order to block all business with ByteDance, the parent company of the Chinese-owned video app in the United States. The order will go into effect starting 45 days from now, September 20th. The move will effectively ban TikTok from being used in the United States, unless the U.S. operations of the company are ultimately bought out by Microsoft (which has been in negotiations with ByteDance recently) or another company by mid-September. Trump previously cited concerns that the popular social media app is collecting data on American users that could be given to the Chinese government, thus creating a potential national security risk -- concerns that TikTok has continued to deny.
“[TikTok's] data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage," Trump said in a letter to congressional leaders.
Last Friday night, Trump, who has floated the idea of banning TikTok for a few weeks, told reporters that he would act as soon as Saturday to ban the app in the United States. At that time, he noted that the action would be a "severance" of the service.
"As far as TikTok is concerned we're banning them from the United States," Trump told reporters on Friday (via CNBC). He also noted that he had the authority to do so with an executive order.
Trump told reporters on Friday that he didn't support Microsoft buying the app, though Axios reported that negotiations between Microsoft and ByteDance were ongoing on Saturday, though it was later reported that negotiations between Microsoft and ByteDance had paused following Trump's stated intention to ban the app in the United States. Competitors to TikTok, specifically Facebook-owned Instagram's Reels, are in development.
ByteDance first launched TikTok in 2017 and has become wildly popular during the coronavirus pandemic with a reported 2 billion downloads in April alone and a reported value of $50 billion according to a recent Reuters report.
Trump's banning of TikTok in the United States is not the first time that the Trump Administration has halted or restricted the use of Chinese technology in the United States or in connection to American interests. In 2018 the sale of phones and modems by Chinese state-backed companies Huawei and ZTE were halted on American military bases around the world for national security concerns.
As for how the TikTok ban will impact social media, consumers have been anticipating the shakeup. On Friday night following Trump's comments that the ban was imminent, many Twitter users took to the microblogging platform to call for the return of the short form video social media app, Vine, that was shuttered in 2017.
What do you think about Trump banning TikTok's parent company in the United States? Let us know in the comments.