President Donald Trump said he could banish the world's most popular short video app, TikTok, from the United States on Saturday.
The president said he could use "economic emergency powers or an executive ordinance" to ban TikTok from the US, he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
The news came hours after reports came out that Microsoft had talked about buying TikTok. Investors have reportedly valued the three-year TikTok at $ 50 billion. In his comment on Friday, Trump signaled that he did not support allowing an American company to take over TikTok.
The same day, Bloomberg reported that Trump could instruct ByteDance to sell its property in TikTok.
In response to Trump's decision, TikTok tried, as usual, to argue that it is in the U.S. interest to keep the app and that this is not a national security threat:
“100 million Americans come to TikTok to chat and socialize, especially during the pandemic. We hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone and are proud to hire another 10,000 people for high-paying jobs in the United States. Our $ 1 billion creative fund supports US creators who make a living from our platform. TikTok's US user data is stored in the United States with strict control over employee access. TikTok's largest investors come from the United States. We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of our users as we continue to bring joy to families and enable significant careers to those who build on our platform, ”said a TikTok spokesman.
Trump's announcement confirmed weeks of speculation that U.S. regulators wanted to block TikTok, which is popular with American teenagers because they fear it could be a spy tool for Beijing.
The question is how a sale or ban on TikTok will take shape. TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, which has recently become the most promising technology startup in China and is said to be worth an unbelievable $ 100 billion. It operates Douyin, the popular Chinese version of TikTok, separately for users based in China.
ByteDance looked for different ways to distance TikTok from any Chinese association. Efforts in recent months have ranged from the appointment of former Disney manager Kevin Mayer as CEO of TikTok, to the claim that the app's data is stored in American land, to the promise of creating 10,000 jobs in the United States.
The TikTok communications team also attempted to address concerns by repeating that four of the parent company's five board mandates "are controlled by some of the world's most respected global investors," including Arthur Dantchik, managing director of Susquehanna International Group; William Ford, CEO of General Atlantic; Philippe Laffont, founder of Coatue Management; and Neil Shen, the head of Sequoia China. ByteDance's founder and CEO, Zhang Yiming, is the CEO.
It is worth noting that the United States Foreign Investment Committee (CFIUS) has not yet published its decision on whether the merger of Musical.ly and TikTok poses a national security threat to the United States, even when it requests TikTok to Musical.ly discard It is unclear how the sale will work in practice. When ByteDance merged the two apps in 2018, existing Musical.ly users were asked to download the TikTok app that already had users. Therefore, all current TikTok users are technically TikTok users.
If the sale targets TikTok, will ByteDance be forced to sell all of its international assets? TikTok also has a significant user base outside of the United States. Before India banned TikTok because of national security fears, a popular criticism among many US politicians, the country was the app's largest overseas market.
It is becoming more and more likely that Zhang Yiming's worst nightmare will happen. The entrepreneur has been striving to conquer the international market from the start, and now his startup is the youngest farmer in US-China relations.