NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump will order China’s ByteDance to sell its hit video app TikTok because of national-security concerns, according to reports published Friday.
“We are looking at TikTok," Trump told reporters Friday at the White House. "We may be banning TikTok.”
Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could announce as soon as Friday a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.
TikTok issued a statement Friday saying that, “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought Musical.ly, a video service popular with teens in the U.S. and Europe, and combined the two. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users. TikTok has said it has tens of millions of U.S. users and hundreds of millions globally.
TikTok has a reputation for fun, goofy videos and is popular with young people, but its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials.
TikTok maintains 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 company has hired a U.S. CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.
U.S. national-security officials have been reviewing the Musical.ly acquisition in recent months, while U.S. armed forces have banned their employees from installing TikTok on government-issued phones.
These national-security worries parallel a broader U.S. security crackdown on Chinese companies, including telecom providers Huawei and ZTE.
Other countries are also taking action against TikTok. India this month banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, citing privacy concerns, amid tensions between the countries.