Do you use TikTok? There’s talk that the video-sharing app could soon be banned in the United States – but why?
President Trump recently said that he is likely to ban the digital platform for national security reasons, but there could be a range of reasons his administration wants to ditch the fastest growing social media platform in the country.
It’s estimated that TikTok enjoys 80 million active monthly users in the U.S. It’s owned by a Chinese company known as ByteDance, and U.S. authorities are concerned that the personal data of millions of Americans users will ultimately land in the hands of Chinese communist officials. What could the Chinese do with all that American information? Federal authorities aren’t saying, but they do not like the possibilities.
No U.S. president has ever banned the use of a mobile app. Whether Mr. Trump has the authority to do so, or how it would happen, remains to be seen.
However, America isn’t the only country to move against TikTok. Citing security concerns, India banned the Chinese-owned app along with Bangladesh and Indonesia. Australia is considering giving TikTok the heave-ho as well.
Some have also speculated that Trump is going hard after TikTok because it was the platform that 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 sparring 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. In defense of its digital product, 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 US, 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.