The US president is preparing to sign an official order on Saturday to force the Chinese parent company to divest itself of the very popular TikTok application in the name of protecting national security, according to US journalists.
Donald Trump told reporters on board the presidential plane Air Force One on Friday, July 31, that he plans to ban TikTok, the social network popular with young people. And the U.S. president plans to act as early as Saturday by signing an official order to force the Chinese parent company to divest itself of this popular video application in the name of protecting national security, the Wall Street Journal and the Bloomberg agency wrote.
Other American media, including the New York Times and the Fox News television channel, for their part, claim that the computer giant Microsoft is considering buying TikTok, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars.
Microsoft as buyer?
The move would mark a spike in Washington’s national security concerns as officials worry about TikTok’s management of private user data.
It would also be a major setback for ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok and which has become one of the few Chinese conglomerates with a global reach thanks to the application’s commercial success.
Donald Trump’s announcement follows intense negotiations during the day between the White House, ByteDance and possible buyers for TikTok, including Microsoft.
Reuters has learned from sources close to the file that the discussions have not led to an agreement for the Chinese company to divest its activities in the United States. Discussions are expected to continue in the coming days.
Expectations from ByteDance, which values TikTok at more than $50 billion and insists on staying in the application, have complicated the talks, another source said.
A legal ban?
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning it in the United States,” Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. “I’ll sign the document tomorrow.”
It is unclear at this time what legal means the U.S. President intends to use to ban TikTok, and how such a ban would be enforced.
TikTok is popular with teenagers and allows them to create short videos with a lot of special effects. It has nearly 80 million active users in the United States each month.
ByteDance, Microsoft and the U.S. Treasury Department – which chairs the government panel that reviewed TikTok’s statutes – have declined requests for comment.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in TikTok’s long-term success,” the video platform said in a statement.