Those living in the US will no longer be able to access TikTok if Donald Trump has his way, with the president vowing to ban the viral video-sharing app in the country.
Although Trump did not specify how he intended to achieve what he described as a ‘severance’ from the app, he did tell reporters he could sign an executive order as early as today, August 1.
It comes after US security officials expressed concern that the app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, could be used to collect the personal data of Americans. TikTok has denied accusations that it is controlled by or shares data with the Chinese government.
ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017 as a competitor to Facebook and Snapchat, with the video-sharing app growing in popularity in the years since.
Not only does TikTok have up to 80 million active monthly users in America, but the app hit two billion downloads during April this year alone.
However, the app’s rise – along with the deteriorating relationship between the US and China – has prompted scrutiny from the US government, with the proposed ban threatening to be a huge blow for ByteDance.
‘As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,’ Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida, reports. ‘I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.’
The president’s comments come after he signed an order forcing ByteDance to sell the US portion of TikTok due to national security concerns, although it’s not immediately clear what authority Trump has to ban the app in the country or how that ban would be enforced.
Microsoft has reportedly been in talks to buy the app from ByteDance, however would not comment on the matter. If the deal went ahead, reports say it would involve ByteDance shedding TikTok’s US operations.
Trump’s comments have sparked outrage across the US, with many describing his actions as ‘facism’ and others comparing it to his past actions.
‘The people take to the streets, he militarises the streets,’ one person wrote. ‘American youth speak out against him on on TikTok, he bans TikTok. People register to vote, he delays the election.’
One person addressed Trump supporters specifically, writing: ‘Hey Trumpers, if Trump manages to ban TikTok, THAT is infringing on your first amendment rights. Not masks. It’s also fascism.’
A TikTok spokesperson declined to comment on Mr Trump’s mooted ban, but told US media outlets the company was ‘confident in the long-term success of TikTok’ in the US.