Washington suspects Chinese intelligence is using the app, which has nearly one billion users worldwide.
US President Donald Trump announced on Friday July 31 that he was going to ban the social network TikTok in the United States, suspected by Washington of being able to be used by Chinese intelligence. “Regarding TikTok, we ban it in the United States”he told reporters aboard the Presidential Air Force One plane.
TikTok belongs to the Chinese group ByteDance. The app has nearly a billion users worldwide and is very popular with a young audience. It has often had to defend itself from its links with China, where the ByteDance group has a similar application, under another name. The platform has always denied sharing data with the Chinese authorities and assured that it does not intend to accept requests in this regard.
TikTok was under investigation by CFIUS, the U.S. agency responsible for ensuring that foreign investments do not pose a risk to national security.
US officials have expressed fears in recent weeks that the very popular video platform could be used by Beijing for purposes harmful to the United States. Steven Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury, said on Wednesday that he would make a “recommendation” on TikTok at the White House this week.
Friday, before Donald Trump’s announcement, American media believed that the president was going to force the ByteDance group to sell TikTok. According to Wall Street Journal and the Bloomberg agency, the president was about to sign an official order to force the Chinese parent company to part with the very popular American application, in the name of protecting national security. But Donald Trump finally seems to have opted for the ban of the platform.
A few days ago, TikTok made a commitment to have a high level of transparency and in particular to allow checks of its algorithms, to reassure users and regulators.
“We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and we have no agenda. Our only goal is to remain a lively and dynamic platform appreciated by all”TikTok boss Kevin Mayer said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The social network is also disputed elsewhere than in the United States. It has been banned since June 30 in India, where it was placed at the top of the list of 59 Chinese applications blocked by New Delhi on its territory for “ensure the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”. Pakistan, a very conservative Muslim country, recently launched “a final warning” to the TikTok video sharing application so that it removes content deemed to be “immoral, obscene and vulgar”.