President Donald Trump has decided to force popular social media platform TikTok to sell its U.S. arm as part of a bid to reduce Chinese espionage in the United States.
Bloomberg News reports that President Trump is planning to announce a decision to require TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to divest ownership of the popular social networking tool.
Sources told the media outlet that the U.S. had been closely investigating the threat that TikTok posed to national security, and that a formal decision would be announced within the coming days.
Trump hinted at action against TikTok when talking to reporters on Friday, stating he was considering a ban on TikTok.
“We are looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,” Trump stated. “We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
TRUMP: “We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok.” pic.twitter.com/juVVaIyiGD
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 31, 2020
Trump has in the past expressed a desire to ban TikTok as retaliation against China for the country’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s something we’re looking at, yes,” Trump told Gray TV’s Greta van Susteren earlier this month. “It’s a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”
India previously implemented a ban on TikTok, prompting calls for the United States to do the same:
The nationalist government of India has banned controversial Chinese social media app TikTok following growing tensions between the two neighboring countries over a territorial dispute.
India took the decision to ban 59 Chinese spyware apps on national security grounds on Tuesday. Other than TikTok, applications produced by Chinese tech giants Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba were also affected.
Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Robert Spalding stated that the United States should “absolutely” follow in India’s footsteps during an appearance on the War Room: Pandemic show on Newsmax TV.
“Not only the apps, not only the social media platform from China, but also many of our media organizations here in the United States have some kind of investment or some kind of financial tie to the Chinese Communist Party,” General Spalding said.
TikTok’s American competitors, such as Snap Inc., which owns Snapchat, have benefited from growing international pressure on TikTok’s ties to China.