The Chinese company ByteDance is extremely successful with its app TikTok. Young people in various countries are active on TikTok and share short videos of themselves. US President Donald Trump considers the app a thorn in the side: He wants to force the Chinese company to withdraw from the USA. The plan is part of the agenda to keep Chinese influences out of the US.
Trump: “As for TikTok, we are banishing them from the US”
On Friday evening Trump had announced to journalists that he wanted to “ban” the app from the USA. He had also stated that he had the necessary rights to do so and that he could act by presidential decree or economic emergency authorization. The measure – if it is actually taken – would fit into the US government’s hard line against Chinese actors in the US. Only recently, a Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas was closed. In addition, the US has imposed economic sanctions against Hong Kong in response to the Chinese Security Law for Hong Kong. The threat thus comes at a time of massive tensions between the US and China, which could become even more acute as a result.
However, reservations about TikTok are not only in the USA. Fears have also been expressed in other countries that user data could be passed on to the Chinese government. TikTok itself denies these accusations and points out that the relevant data is stored in the USA but not in China and that it is not active in China.
Is Microsoft interested in a takeover?
Also since Friday rumors have been circulating that Microsoft has expressed interest in taking over the US business of the app. Microsoft has not yet commented on the rumours, so it is still unclear whether there is actually such a buying interest. Should Microsoft actually take over TikTok in the USA, the company would suddenly become a serious competitor to market leader Facebook on the social networking field.
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham described the takeover of TikTok’s US business by a US company as a “win-win situation” for the US and the app’s users: “The national interest in shielding against Chinese influence would be preserved, as would the interest in continuing to use the app.
Should Trump’s order to this effect actually be issued, the company’s efforts to actively distance itself from China would be in vain. Recently, TikTok had increasingly tried to orient itself towards the West and present itself as an American-oriented company. In the course of this, Kevin Mayer, former manager at Walt Disney, for example, was hired as chairman of the board of directors, the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs in the USA was promised and lobbying work was carried out in the USA.
Interesting in the context of the current debate on the sidelines is the fact that Donald Trump has recently come into personal conflict with users of the app: In the run-up to an election campaign appearance in June, numerous users of the social network are said to have reserved tickets without attending the event in order to cause Trump a debacle.