Donald Trump on Friday again suggested the US may take action against Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, floating a potential ban.
“We’re looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House on a trip to Florida.
“There are a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening. So, we’ll see what happens,” he said.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters the US is preparing to take action against TikTok amid concerns over the security of the personal data collected by the popular short video app.
TikTok did not respond to request for comment.
Bloomberg reported on Friday that the Trump administration is looking at a number of changes regarding the app, including ordering TikTok parent company ByteDance to “divest its ownership” in the US operations of the app. Several news outlets reported that Microsoft is reportedly looking into buying TikTok’s US operations. Microsoft did not respond to request for comment.
The move comes as TikTok’s data privacy practices have come under increased scrutiny. Some US companies have ordered employees to delete the app from company phones and the US military has banned the app internally as well.
Security experts say TikTok collects a large amount of user data. Because its parent company is based in China, some fear the platform could be compelled to share its data with the Chinese government.
TikTok has vehemently denied it shares information with the Chinese government and has distanced itself from ByteDance, hiring the California-based former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as chief executive officer in May.
It is unclear what power Trump has personally to order a foreign company to sell off part of its business, but there is some precedent. In 2019, the US government forced Chinese owners of gay dating app Grindr to cede ownership of the app over similar concerns. But Grindr, at around 4m active users, was much smaller and perhaps less complicated to legislate.
TikTok was the most-downloaded app in the world as of early 2020 and has overall been downloaded roughly 2bn times.