It does seem like President Trump is very keen on keeping TikTok out of the US by seeking a ban on it as fast as possible. According to The Hill, the ban could happen around Saturday. Trump has even stated to a few reporters that if required, he would use special permissions to prohibit the TikTok app within the US.
This latest news comes right after reports regarding Microsoft acquiring TikTok leaked out in the media. According to a few sources, Microsoft is in a discussion to acquire the much-hyped TikTok at about $50 billion. On Friday, Trump hinted that he was in no mood to allow an American company to acquire TikTok. Likewise, Bloomberg reported that Trump could direct ByteDance to scrap TikTok off its ownership.
As usual, when queried, TikTok maintained the same stance that the app posed no security risks and that it is in the US’s interests, whether to retain the app.
A TikTok spokesperson stated, “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. 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.”Source
Trump’s latest declaration of seeking a ban on TikTok finally ends all the whispers that were going on for a few weeks about the US regulators blocking the app. TikTok is quite in demand amongst the teens of the country. There was huge distress among US lawmakers that Beijing officials could get a hold on important and confidential user data through this app.
One has to look out on how exactly this ban would happen. ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing, owns TikTok. Presently, ByteDance is quite popular in China from the time it evolved as a tech startup. Currently, its market value is placed at a whopping $100 billion. Douyin, the Chinese counterpart of TikTok, is also owned by ByteDance.
ByteDance has ensured that TikTok has no connections with any Chinese association. Keeping this in mind, former Disney executive, Kevin Mayer, was appointed as TikTok’s CEO. It led everyone to believe that the app’s data is stored within the US only, along with a promise of about 10,000 jobs within the US itself.
The communications team of TikTok has also stated that out of the five boards of its parent company, at least four of them are being controlled by some of the world’s best-respected global investors. These include Arthur Dantchik, managing director of Susquehanna International Group; William Ford, CEO of General Atlantic; Philippe Laffont, founder of Coatue Management; and Neil Shen, the boss of Sequoia China. Zhang Yiming, CEO and founder of ByteDance, has been appointed as the chairman of the board.
So far, it is not yet clear whether Musical.ly, the sister app of TikTok with which it has been merged, would also pose a security threat to US user data. On account of both these apps being merged, technically, Musical.ly’s users would also be TikTok users.
It may be interesting to note here that India, where TikTok had the biggest overseas market, had banned the app in June, citing security issues. Many US politicians have highlighted this point now and then, with the entire subject becoming a huge criticism.
It looks like Zhang Yiming’s worst fears would come out to be true. He had a lot of expectations that TikTok would earn a great name in the international market. But how things are shaping up currently, it does seem that TikTok would further fuel US-China relations.