TikTok: What You Need To Know About Its Ongoing US Battle


The wildly popular short video app has become the subject of increasing criticism in the US. The Chinese roots of its parent company ByteDance has caused it to be classified in the US as a national security threat. TikTok is wildly popular with over 2 billion downloads and over 200 million users in the US. TikTok is outperforming even Instagram in terms of downloads. Also, its short-form video clips regularly go viral on rival social networks.

As US-China relations have deteriorated over the course of 2019 and 2020, pressure against Chinese apps began to mount. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States in late 2019 contacted ByteDance expressing concerns that the app posed a threat to US citizens. In December 2019, the US Army banned personnel from using TikTok. The Navy also told personnel not to install the app on government devices.

Proposed TikTok Ban

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also revealed that the US government was are taking the matter very seriously. He added that US TikTok users should be wary of the app, saying their data could end up “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. However, Trump’s reasoning for potentially banning TikTok differed from Pompeo’s. On the other hand, Trump suggests that China could be punished for the coronavirus outbreak through a TikTok ban

Subsequently, the governmental Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) issued an order. It demanded TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to divest the company on national security grounds. To this effect, ByteDance began talks to sell off part of TikTok to interested US investors – most notably Microsoft.

On Monday, Trump issued a 15th of September ultimatum for TikTokdivestment/acquisition. TikTok’s US general manager Vanessa Pappas responded to the threat in address to US users. She said “we’re not planning on going anywhere” and “we’re here for the long run.” Additionally, she said that TikTok is planning on creating 10,000 jobs in the US over the next three years.

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