Trump says that he will ban TikTok on Saturday; president rejects Microsoft’s interest in the app

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On his way to Florida today, President Donald Trump told reporters, “We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There’s a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.” At the same time, speculation was swirling that Microsoft was considering a purchase of the short-form video app that is valued anywhere between $50 billion and $100 billion.
Perhaps something happened in Florida that put the president in a foul mood. Returning from the Sunshine State this evening, Trump told the media that he will sign an executive order or use a designation to ban TikTok in the U.S. as soon as tomorrow. The app, which allows users to record 15-second or 30-second videos has been a huge hit with over two billion installs in the App Store and Google Play Store. During the pandemic, it has helped many pass the time (especially teens) by sharing comedic clips, musical clips, clips of users dancing, and even clips of users protesting.

NBC News is reporting that Trump made the comment about TikTok aboard Air Force One. Asked about using an executive order, the president stated, “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or (a designation through the International Emergency Economic Powers Act).” As far as the rumored Microsoft deal was concerned, Trump said that he rejects such a transaction. There are several reasons that explain Trump’s decision to ban TikTok in the states. One, the app is owned by a Chinese based firm called ByteDance and this administration has continually called China-based tech firms like Huawei and ZTE national security threats. That’s because of a law in China that could require a tech firm in the country to collect information on behalf of China’s communist government. There is no evidence that Huawei, ZTE, or TikTok has ever sent intelligence to Beijing. In a statement, TikTok said that it has “no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects our users’ privacy.”

TikTok has tried to distance itself from China and even hired the former head of the Disney+ streaming service, Kevin Mayer, as CEO. But some believe that Trump is seeking revenge against China for the spread of the coronavirus into the U.S. Another possibility is that the president is upset about TikTok users who reserved tickets to his Tulsa event planning not to show up. This created many empty seats at the venue which was not a good look for Trump’s re-election campaign.

As soon as an official statement about TikTok is released tomorrow (if indeed one is) we will pass it on to you.

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