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President Donald Trump is reportedly considering actions that would force the Chinese company ByteDance, creators of the popular TikTok social media app, to divest from its U.S. TikTok operations.
Officials familiar with the matter who spoke with Bloomberg said Trump could announce some action on TikTok by Friday, including an order for its Chinese owners to divest from their U.S. operations. The social media app’s control by a Chinese company has heightened concerns the app is harvesting user information for China.
ByteDance bought out another company, Musical.ly Inc. in 2017, after which TikTok became an ever popular app in the U.S.
As TikTok rose in popularity in the U.S., so to did U.S. national security concerns about the app. In December of 2019, the U.S. Army banned its members from using TikTok, joining an earlier ban by the U.S. Navy and following the U.S. Department of Defense’s warnings about the app.
After a border clash between India and China in June, TikTok was one of dozens of Chinese-owned apps India banned nationwide.
A U.S. order for TikTok to sell off its U.S. business could put its Chinese owners in the position of either having to comply or shut down the app in the U.S.
ByteDance has made some efforts to draw distance between the app’s U.S. operations and its Chinese ownership. The company recently chose former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be its U.S. CEO. The New York Post also reported a group of U.S. Silicon Valley investors have also recently proposed buying the U.S. operations for TikTok, as a means of easing the scrutiny placed on the social media app.
TikTok maintains it does not provide user data to the Chinese government and would not do so if asked, The New York Post reported. The company said it has “no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects our users’ privacy.”