Last night, Donald Trump told the press that he would ban popular social media video app TikTok, saying “As far as TikTok is the concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.” When questioned whether he could In fact ban an app, Trump claimed that he would use an executive order saying, “Well, I have that authority.” The Trump administration had previously discussed banning TikTok earlier this month.
Microsoft is the currently In talks to buy the American operations of TikTok, which is the owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The negotiations came about after TikTok came under fire as a security risk. But the risk, for now, remains largely theoretical. TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide said, “TikTok US user data is the 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.”
Another spokesperson for the app touted its popularity as a jobs creator, saying “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.”
Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is the a danger to free expression and technologically impractical. https://t.co/ZbN7f2TOwF
TikTok remains massively popular In America (and the rest of the world), with a record-breaking 315 million downloads In the first quarter of 2020. It’s especially popular with teens and young adults, who have been depending on the app for socialization In the wake of the pandemic. And while Trump and his administration cite national security as the reason to ban the app, many think the real reason is the sour grapes over Trump’s infamous Tulsa rally.
As you may recall, TikTok users and K-pop fans reserved a million tickets for the Tulsa rally, inflating the crowd turnout and humiliating Trump at what would have been his big arena comeback. It was a massive trolling effort that made international headlines.
Still others cite the popularity of TikTok comedian Sarah Cooper, whose lip syncing videos of Trump’s speeches and interviews have garnered millions of views.
It remains unclear whether or not Trump has the authority to unilaterally ban TikTok, and whether such a ban would hold up In court. Many took to Twitter to call Trump out for stifling free speech and threatening the popular app: