Gen Zers are in a panic.
On Friday, President Donald Trump said that he is strongly considering banning the Chinese-owned app TikTok in the United States, possibly as soon as this weekend.
The Trump administration has been very wary of Chinese technology penetrating our markets in recent months. There is already a huge issue with the Chinese allegedly stealing intellectual property from the United States on various fronts. In this case, though, it is more about data security than anything else.
In July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo specifically called out TikTok, calling it a “Trojan horse for Chines intelligence.”
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese tech company, and U.S. officials are concerned about the security of user data collected by the app. For one, according to Fox Business, China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires Chinese companies to “share data with the Chinese government if requested, but also maintain secrecy about it.”
Military personnel and Defense Department employees were instructed to stop using the application in December for fear of the “potential risk” using the app presents.
TikTok, of course, denies there are such problems.
In part, the company stated, “TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S., with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the U.S. 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.”
Trump cracks down
With a reported deal with Microsoft looming, President Trump has threatened to make a move, probably by executive order, sooner rather than later. “As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Friday.
Trump’s announcement reportedly brought that deal to a screaming halt on Saturday, putting a damper on Microsoft’s plan.
On Saturday afternoon, reports emerged that ByteDance was considering divesting of the app completely in order to assuage U.S. security concerns and save the deal. “Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States,” Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.
In the meantime, TikTok has other problems. Instagram, which is owned by U.S. social media giant Facebook, has announced that a competing short-form video service will be released in August.