Mon, 21 Sep 2020

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- What happened to TikTok in the United States? What are the responses of users and media to Trump threatening to ban the app as a security risk?

On Friday night, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that he was looking at a lot of alternatives regarding Chinese firm ByteDance's TikTok video app, including the possibility of a ban.

"We're looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things," Trump said as he left the White House on a trip to Florida. "There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening. So, we'll see what happens," he said as quoted by Reuters.

"Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that," he said referring to emergency economic powers.

TikTok's response:

"We're not planning on going anywhere ... When it comes to safety and security, we're building the safest app because we know it's the right thing to do ... We're here for the long run. Continue to share your voice here and let's stand for TikTok," TikTok's U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas said Saturday in a video published on the platform.

In a statement published Wednesday, Kevin Mayer, former Disney executive who became the CEO of TikTok in May, said that "We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda - our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy."

"Without TikTok, American advertisers would again be left with few choices. Competition would dry up and so too will an outlet for America's creative energy," Mayer said.

Some of the media responses:

The possible ban provoked outrage among TikTok users, with hashtag #savetiktok2020 created, as many of them have grown to depend on TikTok as a way to build a career in social media and earn a living.

Microsoft to buy TikTok?

Microsoft on Sunday said it aims to complete a deal by Sept. 15 for TikTok's U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations, Reuters reported. Media suggested the current threat of Trump administration to ban TikTok might give Microsoft an edge in pricing negotiations with TikTok's Chinese parent, ByteDance. Also the acquisition might help the U.S. company to become a bigger player in the internet industry.

Ongoing official review on TikTok by the U.S.:

In an interview on Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews the national security implications of foreign business deals and is chaired by Mnuchin, is reviewing TikTok.

"We agree there needs to be a change. Force a sale or block the app. Everybody agrees it can't exist as it does," Mnuchin said.

Some background:

In early July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration was considering a ban on access to TikTok over privacy concerns. The social media company claims user data is safe and not shared with the Chinese authorities, as Beijing has called on Washington to stop using government mechanisms to pressure Chinese companies.

Washington kept arguing that TikTok is a national security threat to the U.S. while cracking down on Chinese tech companies.

TikTok has been seeing its popularity explode during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people were looking to escape the boredom of lockdown.■

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