By Spy Correspondent
USA: President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he will act as soon as Saturday to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok from the United States.
Trump made the comments while chatting with reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington from Florida.
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said, calling the action a “severance adding “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.”
A TikTok spokesperson in response revealed that the app helped to create jobs across the U.S. and was committed to user privacy.
“We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US.,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform.
He added “TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access,” the statement said. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. 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’s comments come as it was reported Friday that Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, one person close to the situation said. This person characterized the talks as having been underway for some time, rather than being brand new.
Trump told reporters that he didn’t support the reported spin-off deal involving Microsoft buying TikTok.
A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets.
Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said in 2018 that in recent years the company had been consistent in its strategy on acquiring “networked assets” with many users, including LinkedIn.
Chinese company ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017. The app has grown more popular during the coronavirus pandemic, with 2 billion downloads in April, according to Sensor Tower. Competitors include Facebook and Snap.