Do you use TikTok? There’s talk that the video-sharing app could soon be banned in the United States – but why?
President Trump said he is thinking about banning the app for national security , but there could be many reasons he wants to get rid of the fastest growing social media platform in the country.
TikTok enjoys around 80 million active monthly users in the U.S. It’s owned by a Chinese company known as ByteDance, and the U.S. worries that the personal data of millions of Americans users could be handed over to China. What could the Chinese do with all that American information? The government isn’t saying, but officials do not like the possibilities.
No U.S. president has ever banned the use of a mobile app. It’s not even clear if President Trump can do it, or if he actually will.
America isn’t the only country to move against TikTok. India banned the Chinese-owned app along with Bangladesh and Indonesia. Australia is thinking about telling TikTok good-bye as well.
Some have also suggested that Trump is going hard after TikTok because it was used to falsely register thousands of attendants for one of his rallies – the result was that lots of seats were left empty. Another theory is that Trump is in a foul mood regarding anything Chinese and has been fighting with President Xi Jinping since the outbreak of COVID-19 shut down the U.S. economy.
Whatever the reason, it’s true that the federal government and some members of Congress have been worried about TikTok for a while. ByteDance insists that data collected from American users is kept safe from the Chinese government and is stored in the States with a back-up in Singapore.
“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,” said the CEO of TikTok, Kevin Mayer. “TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy.”
ByteDance is also trying to avoid a ban by distancing itself from China. It recently said it would move its headquarters from Beijing to London, and it is also in talks with Microsoft about selling TikTok operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
In fact, Trump gave the two technology companies 45 days to arrange a sale – so maybe a ban isn’t on the way, after all. It all depends on who ends up running the video app, and what it does with Americans’ information.