Donald Trump yesterday revealed to reporters aboard Air Force One that he was planning to “ban TikTok” in the United States beginning this Saturday. The President of the United States said he is ready to sign an executive order, perhaps under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which would bring the ban into effect “essentially immediately.”
At the same time, the New York Times reported that Microsoft had had conversations with ByteDance, the Chinese giant that bought Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, to acquire the $ 50 billion social network.
According to the New York Times, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was examining the purchase of Musical.ly and ended up ordering ByteDance to sell TikTok. The US government is involved in the negotiations on the grounds that TikTok poses a threat to national security for being a Chinese company, the same argument it used to blacklist the Commerce Department.
Trump was informed of the divestment plan on Friday. The president could sign an executive order under the powerful Emergency International Economic Powers Act to ban TikTok in the United States, as well as add ByteDance to the list of entities to ban him from buying American products and services. “A lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens,” Trump explained. “But we are looking at many alternatives.”
The talks between Microsoft and ByteDance about the purchase of TikTok are not new, according to CNBC, but it is also not clear that changing ownership is crucial to the social network. ByteDance offered several alternatives to American officials. In one scenario, non-Chinese investors like Sequoia Capital, SoftBank, and General Atlantic could buy a majority stake in the app from ByteDance. The United States is one of the main markets for TikTok, which is why it is interested in maintaining its operations in the country.
In a press release, TikTok notes that it has “10,000 well-paid employees across the United States” and has established a $ 1 billion creator fund to “support American content creators who make a living” on the platform.
“TikTok United States user data is stored in the United States with strict controls over employee access,” the statement added. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the United States. We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of our users as we work to bring joy to families and careers for those who create content on our platform.”
TikTok is used by over 800 million people worldwide and is especially popular with young people. The confinement rocketed its popularity to 2 billion downloads in April.