President Donald Trump said he will ban the popular video app TikTok from operating in the U.S. — and do it as early as Saturday.
Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One Friday evening that he will use emergency powers or an executive order to block the app, according to The Hill. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” he told reporters. “I have that authority.”
It is unclear exactly which powers Trump was referring to and how his administration plans to take action against the app.
In a statement to Digital Trends, A TikTok spokesperson said the app helped to create jobs across the U.S. and was committed to user privacy.
“These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our U.S. team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the U.S. Our $1 billion creator fund supports U.S. creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
Trump reportedly said he would not support a U.S. company’s takeover of the app, contradicting earlier reports Friday that he would soon sign an executive order demanding TikTok’s U.S. operations be divested from its China-based ownership, ByteDance.
Microsoft reportedly was in talks to purchase the app. But with Trump announcing his administration wouldn’t approve of a sale to U.S.-based owners, it’s unclear if that option remains.
TikTok — which has exploded in popularity and boasts hundreds of millions of users — has been under fire for its supposed links to the Chinese government, with politicians expressing concern that user data could be harvested for a foreign power.
Though experts say TikTok’s privacy policies are no better or worse than U.S.-run apps like Facebook, some politicians have taken action. India banned TikTok due to its Chinese ownership, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States opened an investigation into ByteDance, and the House recently passed legislation banning the app from being downloaded onto federal devices.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the U.S. was “looking at” banning the app as well.
In a video response on its own platform, TikTok U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas thanked users and affirmed, “We’re not planning on going anywhere .”
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