President Donald Trump has made good on his threat to ban TikTok in the United States. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, the president revealed he was also rejecting a potential deal for Microsoft to buy the app from its parent company, which is based in China.
"As far as TikTok is concerned, we're banning them from the United States," Trump said, according to CNN. musing that he could use either emergency economic powers or an executive order to do so. "Well, I have that authority," he said, in lieu of providing any further details. Some members of the Trump administration had expected him to sign an order to force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, to sell the U.S. operations, which would have resolved some policymakers' concerns over the app being a security risk.
Microsoft is currently in talks to acquire the short-form video app, the New York Times reported, though the company has declined to offer an official comment. There have been concerns from companies like over how the app collects data, including Amazon, which has banned its employees from using it on mobile devices. Despite fears that the user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, to the detriment of the U.S., the company has claimed that TikTok stores its data outside of China and that it would resist any information-seizing attempts by officials.
Security concerns aside, Trump himself has had a contentious relationship with the app in recent weeks. TikTok users were apparently a major part of the online community who'd reserved seats at his "comeback" rally in Tulsa back in June. Prior to the event, the campaign was boasting that hundreds of thousands of people had reserved seats, though only around 6,000 people actually showed up.
It was also the platform that helped propel Sarah Cooper to the spotlight. The comedian gained viral fame after lip-syncing videos to Trump speeches. "As a black woman who's been in these situations, I was like, 'I want to be able to do that,'" Cooper told WBUR about her presidential impressions. "I want to be able to B.S. my way through life the way the president has B.S.ed his way through this administration." And that's all before factoring in Claudia Conway, the daughter of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, though she was apparently banned from social media.