TAMPA (WFLA) – President Trump has signed an executive order forcing the divestment of TikTok by its owner, ByteDance.
The order states “action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.”
Any company still doing business with TikTok in 45 days is subject to sanctions according to the order.
“To protect our Nation, I took action to address the threat posed by one mobile application, TikTok,” Trump stated in the order. “Further action is needed to address a similar threat posed by another mobile application, WeChat.”
Microsoft had been in advanced talks to buy the U.S. operations of TikTok.
The potential deal would be a victory for both companies, making Microsoft Corp. a major player in the social media arena and providing relief to TikTok and its parent company, Bytedance Ltd., a target of President Donald Trump’s.
President Trump on July 31 told reporters that he plans to ban the social media platform.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday called for a big expansion of U.S. government curbs on Chinese technology, saying that it wants to see “untrusted Chinese apps” pulled from the Google and Apple app stores.
Outside experts called Pompeo’s proposal vague and possibly illegal.
Pompeo called out popular video app TikTok and the messaging app WeChat, which people in the U.S. use to communicate with others in the U.S. and China, as “significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP content censorship.” CCP refers to the Chinese Communist Party.
Chinese internet company ByteDance owns TikTok, which is designed for users outside of China; it also makes a Chinese version called Douyin. Like YouTube, TikTok relies on its users for the videos that populate its app. It has a reputation for fun, goofy videos and is popular with young people, including millions of Americans.
But critics have cited concerns, including the possibility of TikTok censoring videos, such as those critical of the Chinese government, sharing user data with Chinese officials, and violating kids’ privacy. TikTok has said it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to U.S. user data even if asked.
The legal authority for the administration to take action against apps and app stores is unclear, Triolo write in a research note. The State Department did not immediately a question seeking information about the legal authority the administration could use to justify such measures.
The initiative is meant to force countries and companies to choose sides between the U.S. and China, Triolo said. He expects many companies and governments to resist.
The Associated Press contributed to this report; this is a breaking story and will be updated.