Earlier today, people working on the issue within the Trump administration expected the president to sign an order to force ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the social media platform, to sell the United States operations of TikTok, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Earlier this month, a TikTok spokesperson told ABC News that the company is "led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users".
Reps for TikTok did not immediately respond to TheWrap's request for comment.
It is unclear exactly how the ban of TikTok is planned, but the source describes the ban as the culmination of U.S. concerns about the security of personal data in TikTok, and a major blow to ByteDance, which has become one of the few truly global Chinese conglomerates thanks to its application. ByteDance originally bought US-based Musical.ly Inc in 2017 and merged it with TikTok, creating a social-media hit in the USA - the first Chinese app to make such inroads. A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users. "TikTok's biggest investors come from the US". It said it has tens of millions of US users.
United States lawmakers have raised intelligence and privacy concerns about the company's ownership.
Tik Tok became a major hit with younger generations and celebrities around the world for its fun and easy video-making features, which has resulted in Facebook and Snapchat seeing the app as a threat to their businesses.
TikTok maintains it doesn't censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and that it would not give the Chinese government access to United States user data even if asked.
The platform has hundreds of employees in the US and recently hired Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, as chief executive, according to the Post. The decision comes after TikTok has been scrutinized over the previous year by both US lawmakers and regulators, who have questioned whether the app poses a national security threat due to its data collection practices and close ties to the Chinese government. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden also banned his staffers from using TikTok on both their personal and work devices on Tuesday.
The US has had concerns about other Chinese companies as well, such as the smart phone company Huawei, which is believed to have broken US sanctions against Iran, and ZTE, a surveillance and facial recognition company. Trump said he does not support a deal between ByteDance and Microsoft.
USA officials and legislators in recent weeks have voiced fears of the wildly popular video platform being used by Beijing for nefarious purposes, but the company has denied any links to the Chinese government. But in today's episode, Alex Hern, technology editor at the Guardian, explains why - behind the memes and music - there are some real concerns about censorship, privacy and foreign influence.
The Trump administration has stepped in before to block or dissolve deals on national-security concerns, including stopping Singapore's Broadcom from its $117 billion bid for US chipmaker Qualcomm in 2018 in an effort to help retain USA leadership in the telecom space. The app is run by the Beijing-based company ByteDance.