After the threatened ban by US President Donald Trump, the future of the international video platform TikTok in the US is in limbo.
Trump said on Friday night in his Air Force One company plane, journalists traveling with him said, “As far as TikTok is concerned, we are banishing her from the United States.” An announcement was still pending on Sunday.
TikTok is an internationally very successful video platform from the Chinese company ByteDance, which is offered in 65 languages in 175 markets. Users can upload their own video clips or watch others. In mainland China there is only the censored version Douyin. Representatives of the US government have warned on numerous occasions that data on US citizens could come into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party via TikTok. The Beijing leadership criticizes Washington’s actions and speaks of unfounded threats against Chinese companies.
Will Microsoft Buy TikTok?
There were rumors on Friday that the US software company Microsoft was negotiating the purchase of TikTok’s US business. Trump made it clear to journalists traveling with him that he was against it. The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that advanced talks with ByteDance were paused after Trump’s comments.
The influential Republican U.S. Senator and Trump’s confidante, Lindsey Graham, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he understood the concerns of TikTok users. But it was right that Trump wanted to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party did not “own” TikTok and the user’s private data. The correct answer to this is to have an American company take over TikTok. This is a “win-win situation,” Graham wrote.
TikTok assures that the platform is about creative content that protects “privacy and security”. “TikTok is not offered in China,” said a TikTok spokeswoman for the German Press Agency on Saturday. The Chinese government has no access to user data and has never asked for it. The user data would be stored and processed in the USA.
TikTok is not only experiencing headwinds in the USA, which is why ByteDance is trying to separate its international platform from the Chinese version. TikTok was only active in Hong Kong, but the platform was withdrawn from the Special Administrative Region after the controversial new security law was announced.
U.S. military personnel are prohibited from using TikTok on official cell phones
Washington had already banned US military personnel from using the TikTok app on service smartphones at the end of 2019. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not banned TikTok and other apps from China in early July. On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced in the presence of Trump that the U.S. government was reviewing the platform by the interdepartmental overseas investment control committee (CFIUS), and a recommendation would be made to the president based on it.
TikTok made an effort on Saturday to make it publicly clear what a ban on the platform in the USA would mean. In a video message, U.S. executive Vanessa Pappas said she was proud of the 1,500 U.S. employees working on the app every day and the additional 10,000 jobs that TikTok would bring to the country over the next three years. In the US, TikTok claims to have 100 million users. The largest TikTok investors come from the United States, the company explains.
Users of the social network may have contributed to the high expected visitor numbers before Trump’s campaign appearance in June – in the end, many places remained empty. Media had reported that there had been a coordinated effort at TikTok to register for a ticket for free but not to appear for the event in the state of Oklahoma.
The US government’s threatened ban on TikTok falls amid increased tensions between Beijing and Washington. From the Chinese perspective, the relationship between the two major powers is as bad as it has been since diplomatic relations began in 1979. The United States recently ordered the Chinese consulate to be closed in Houston, Texas, whereupon Beijing closed an American agency in Chengdu. The countries are also at odds over China’s handling of the corona virus, trade policy and tough Chinese practices in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.