PRESIDENT Donald Trump says he plans to officially ban TikTok in the US — and might act as soon as Saturday.
Trump made the announcement on Air Force One on Friday night as he returned from a trip to Florida.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” the president told reporters.
Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action.
“I have that authority,” he said aboard the presidential plane.
TikTok is a Chinese-owned video app that’s become popular among Americans in the last two years or so.
Users on the app create, watch, and engage with videos that range from fun dance trends to beekeepers rescuing honeybees.
It was the world’s second most downloaded app in the third quarter of 2019, with an estimated 176 million downloads.
TIKTOK: A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE WORLD’S MOST DOWNLOADED APP
TikTok lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects.
It is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, founded by the entrepreneur Zhang Yiming.
The $75billion conglomerate acquired the Musical.ly app in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, bringing millions of new users.
It is the world’s most downloaded iPhone app — with nearly 800 million downloads across the globe, according to data from mobile research firm Sensor Tower.
Facebook has taken notice of TikTok’s rising popularity, and launched a competitor app called Lasso in November last year.
TikTok has said it has tens of millions of US users and hundreds of millions of users worldwide.
But while it’s considered fun by users, US lawmakers have raised intelligence, national security, and privacy concerns about the company’s ownership.
TikTok has denied allegations that it shares user data with the Chinese government.
Trump’s announcement on Friday came after reports claimed his administration was planning to order China’s ByteDance to sell TikTok.
It was also reported on Friday that Microsoft was in talks to buy the app.
In response to reports on Friday, TikTok said in a statement: “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
TikTok recently backed away from making the United Kingdom its global headquarters amid rising tensions between Britain and China.
Earlier in the week, Trump had warned he was considering banning TikTok from the country, but said his administration was “looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
Talks of banning the app came about earlier this month when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, but offered no further details.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right,” Pompeo said during an interview on Fox News, when he was asked about a possible US ban.
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Pompeo explained that Americans should only use the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Other Republicans have criticized the social media app.
Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, sponsored the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” which passed unanimously by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.