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TikTok responds to Trump: We’re not going anywhere

By Tal Axelrod, THE HILL, 08/01/20

TikTok fired back at President Trump after he announced he will soon ban the Chinese-owned video app from operating in the United States, saying the company has no plans to cease operations.

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.

In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said the platform has provided millions of Americans with “entertainment and connection” during the coronavirus pandemic and denied criticism that its Chinese owner shares user information with Beijing.

“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform,” the spokesperson said.

TikTik also released a video on Saturday featuring U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas defending the app and touting U.S. jobs and other measures taken by the company.

“We’re not planning on going anywhere,” Pappas says in the video, adding later, “We’re here for the long run.”

A message to the TikTok community.— TikTok (@tiktok_us) August 1, 2020

The pushback came after Trump warned on Friday evening that he could use emergency powers or an executive order as soon as this weekend to bar the platform from operating in the U.S.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union also panned Trump’s announcement, saying banning TikTok would be “a danger to free expression and technologically impractical.”

Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical.— ACLU (@ACLU) August 1, 2020

Though TikTok has become popular with millions of young people worldwide, bipartisan lawmakers in Washington have expressed concerns that the platform’s owner, the Beijing-based company ByteDance, could provide the Chinese government with user data, concerns they say are even more grave given China’s efforts to meddle in the 2020 election.

Trump on Friday also came out against reports that Microsoft was in talks to purchase TikTok from ByteDance, saying he didn’t support the deal, according to NBC News. Multiple media outlets reported Friday that the president was considering signing an executive order requiring ByteDance to divest the U.S. portion of TikTok.

Trump’s Friday announcement appeared to be weeks in the making, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying earlier in July that the administration was considering banning Chinese apps over national security concerns.

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.

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