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Trump Sets Clock Ticking for TikTok

By Steve Herman August 01, 2020

President Donald Trump went to one of his private golf courses Saturday in Virginia after threatening to halt operations in the United States of a popular Chinese-owned video sharing social media app.

"As far as TikTok is concerned, we're banning them from the United States," he told reporters Friday on Air Force One traveling with him from Florida.

He said he would likely use an executive order to prohibit the app. No action was announced before the president left the White House Saturday morning for the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.

Trump was seen by VOA dressed casually departing the West Wing of the White House. It is common for him on weekends to golf at his 325-hectare property, which is located 40 kilometers northwest of the White House.

Trump also told reporters on Air Force One the previous day that he does not support a deal that would allow a U.S. company to buy TikTok's American operations.

The app is extremely popular globally. It already has been downloaded 2 billion times worldwide, and 165 million of those downloads were in the United States.

The app features not only entertainment videos, but also debates, and it takes positions on political issues, such as racial justice and the coming U.S. presidential election.

Officials in Washington are concerned that TikTok may pose a security threat, fearing the company might share its user data with China's government.

When asked by Fox News last month whether Americans should download the app on their phones, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, has said it does not share user data with the Chinese government and maintains that it only stores U.S. user data in the U.S. and Singapore. ByteDance has agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, the Reuters news agency reported Saturday.

TikTok also recently chose former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its chief executive in a move seen as an effort to distance itself from Beijing.

"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.

The U.S. government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an interagency group led by the Treasury Department, opened a national security review of TikTok last year.

CFIUS's job is to oversee foreign investments and assess them for potential national security risks. It can force companies to cancel deals or institute other measures it deems necessary for national security.

Microsoft and other U.S. companies, in recent days, reportedly have been looking to purchase the U.S. operations of TikTok.

Some on social media are accusing Trump of singling out TikTok because pranksters used the app to order hundreds of thousands of tickets to his June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which attracted a smaller-than-expected crowd. TikTok is also where comedian Sarah Cooper posts her videos lip-synched to Trump sound bites, which have attracted millions of views.

Cooper on Friday, uploaded a video mouthing comments made by the president earlier in the day about TikTok.



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