President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that he will ban the TikTok social network in the United States, after the country’s authorities were concerned that the platform would be used by China’s intelligence.
Speaking to reporters on the presidential Air Force One plane, Trump said, «As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re going to ban it in the United States.» Other reports, including one from Fox News, said Microsoft was in talks to acquire TikTok, the value of which could reach several tens of billions of dollars.
U.S. officials and lawmakers in recent weeks expressed concern that TikTok may be used by China for espionage purposes, but the company has denied any ties to the Beijing government. Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, said Wednesday that he would make a «recommendation» about the platform to the White House this week.
«We are confident of TikTok’s long-term success. Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok to entertain and connect, including our community of creators and artists,» he said.
«TikTok has become the ultimate target, but we’re not the enemy,» he added.
But instead of the sale, Trump announced his ban in the United States that will be effective starting this Saturday.
A few days ago, TikTok committed to having a high level of transparency and allowing control of its algorithms to reassure users and regulators.
«We are not politicians, we do not accept political publicity and we do not have a political agenda; our only goal is to remain a dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy,» said TikTok direct executive Kevin Mayer this week.
«The entire sector of activity is being carefully and rightly examined. Due to the Chinese origins of the company, we are being examined even more carefully. We accepted it and accepted the challenge,» Mayer said.
James Lewis, head of the political technology program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes that the security risk from using TikTok is «close to zero.» Instead, «it looks like ByteDance might be under pressure by Bejing,» he said.
The social network is also in the crosshairs in other countries. India put it at the forefront of a list of 59 applications that it banned on 30 June on its territory, to «ensure the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.»
Pakistan, a very conservative Muslim country, recently issued a «last warning» to the app to remove content considered «immoral, obscene and vulgar» from its platform.
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