President Donald Trump has decided to put his threat to ban TikTok in the U.S. on hold for at least 45 days, while some continue to question how much power he has on the issue. On Monday, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration is giving TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, a month and a half to sell its U.S. operations. Microsoft is still considering purchasing the U.S. operations of the popular app.
On Friday, Trump off-handedly told reporters on Air Force One that he intends to "ban" TikTok within the U.S. due to its ownership in China and its alleged ties to the Chinese government. The news sparked a wave of backlash, as millions of Americans are avid users of the video platform. Now, The Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is reportedly holding off on further action. Government officials apparently feel that the app would pose less of a safety risk if an American tech company controlled its U.S. operations instead.
President Trump apparently is halting his plan to shut down the popular video app #TikTok in the U.S.August 3, 2020
Concerns over TikTok's security are nothing new — nor are concerns about data collection and user privacy on social media in general. The difference here is that Trump and other politicians speculate that TikTok and ByteDance could be influenced or controlled in some way by the Chinese Communist Party, creating not just a personal risk for users but a national security risk.
TikTok and ByteDance have repeatedly denied allegations along this line, with TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer saying they are nothing more than "rumors and misinformation." The company claims that all user data is stored in the U.S., and that it receives no influence from Beijing.
"Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns," read a new Microsoft company blog post. "It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury."
The insiders suggested that Trump wants to see Microsoft acquire TikTok's U.S. operations, and that the app would be safe in that case. This counters the speculation from many social media users over the weekend that Trump was angry or jealous to see Microsoft founder Bill Gates close to such a profitable acquisition.
Users have speculated about other reasons why a TikTok ban would be more personal for the president, including the widespread criticism of him on the app. Users banded together there to skew the attendance data for his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month, and prominent creators like Sarah Cooper and Claudia Conway routinely mock him in their videos. For now, at least, TikTok will remain accessible via U.S. IP addresses.