The popular video-sharing app TikTok is facing a possible ban in the United States from President Donald Trump. The president had threatened to ban the app previously after creators and users of the app banded together to buy out Trump’s rally and caused his actual attendance to be low as a result.
Trump claimed the ban would be because of the app’s owner, a Chinese-based company known as ByteDance, stating there were security risks with the app and that China could be gathering data on U.S. citizens through the app. TikTok responded, assuring that the U.S. version of the app was based in the United States and the data was also securely stored there as well. They claimed that the data was heavily restricted.
“TikTok US user data is stored in the US with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US,” said Hilary McQuaide in an interview with CNN Business.
Trump touted that he will ban the app using an Executive Order or something similar on Air Force One during an interview with reporters Friday, July 31. “We’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said.
Hours later, it was reported that Microsoft was in talks to buy the company, at least the U.S. version of it. However, as of 3 P.M. August 1, the conversation had been put on pause after disapproval from Trump. TikTok issued a statement that they ‘weren’t going anywhere’ and discussed recent additions to their company in a video on their Twitter page.
However, TikTok creators have begun pushing their other social media, such as Instagram, YouTube and Twitter in order to keep being able to interact with their fans should the app be banned in the United States. Many have attempted to find workarounds, such as VPNs or changing region settings on their phone in an attempt to keep the app valid on their device.
Banning the app could have negative consequences for Trump’s hopes of reelection. Thousands of voting-age adults and young adults use the app almost daily. A majority of the app is used by Generation Z, who, for the most part, are now able to vote.
For its users, who maintained a voice and a community during a global pandemic, the ban could spark anger and encourage them to vote against Trump in the 2020 election in November.
Another issue is whether or not Trump can actually ban the app. While it may be able to ban government employees from using the app, banning citizens from using it is a different issue.
“Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical,” said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a recent tweet.
As of now, no official ban has been enacted and an investigation into the security of the app is underway. It remains to be seen if Trump and his administration will attempt any sort of ban.
This was written for JOU-2101.