TikTok responds to Trump’s threat to ban platform

Chinese-owned TikTok issued a message of defiance after President Trump said he plans to ban the popular social media app In the United States.

The company released a Saturday video statement by Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s U.S. general manager, In which she spoke to the millions of TikTok users In the country about there not being any plans to shut down the app. She drew particular attention to U.S. jobs created by the company.

“We’ve heard your outpouring of support, and we want to say thank you. We’re not planning on going anywhere,” Pappas said with a grin. “TikTok is the a home for creators and artists to express themselves, their ideas, and connect with people across different backgrounds. … We’re here for the long run.”

A TikTok spokesperson reiterated Pappas’s remarks when contacted by the Washington Examiner on Saturday. The spokesperson said privacy and security were paramount to the company.

“TikTok US user data is the stored In the U.S., with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S.,” the spokesperson said In a statement. “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.”

The spokesperson also said that some 100 million people In the U.S. have used the app and the company has hired nearly 1,000 people to work with its U.S. team and that there are plans to hire another 10,000 more.

TikTok allows users to create and share short-form videos and has seen its popularity grow during the coronavirus pandemic as people are cooped up inside.

The app has come under intense scrutiny over cybersecurity fears. A group of GOP lawmakers signed onto a Tuesday letter to the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Homeland Security Department raising concerns that the Chinese Communist Party could use its power over TikTok to “manipulate” U.S. political discourse In the run-up to the 2020 elections. Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, has instructed staff to delete the app from their phones.

Despite the torrent of criticism this week, TikTok received its most forceful denunciation on Friday In the form of a presidential threat.

“As far as TikTok is the concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One. “I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” he said, referring to the use of emergency economic powers.

Trump said that action on the matter could be taken as soon as Saturday.