TikTok and its U.S. users plot revenge against the administration
UPDATE:Twitter has held preliminary talks with TikTok about purchasing the U.S. operations of the short-form video app. The Wall Street Journal calls it a long-shot bid considering that Microsoft, seen as the leading bidder at the moment, could pay more than Twitter's $29 billion market capitalization figure.
According to NPR, short-form video app TikTok is planning on suing U.S. President Donald Trump as early as Tuesday. The president issued an executive order on Thursday that outlaws any transaction between a U.S. citizen and TikTok's parent company ByteDance after 45 days. The latter is a Chinese firm and is considered a national security threat because of its ties with the Communist Chinese government.
An executive order signed by the president could be counting down TikTok's last days in America
In the executive order, the reason for the administration's actions against TikTok and ByteDance is made clear: "... the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.
Over 100 million Americans use TikTok
TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has reportedly been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States and over one billion times globally. TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage."
The app is used by pre-teens, teens, and even parents to produce and share 15-second or 60-second videos with content that includes lip-syncing, dancing, singing, and comedy. TikTok has been downloaded over two billion times from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The president's executive order could block U.S. companies from advertising on TikTok and force Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective app storefronts. And the app's 1,000 U.S. employees could have their paychecks frozen. Landlords who own property rented or leased by TikTok could be forced to evict them from the property. Trump's order could also stop TikTok from using U.S. lawyers to represent it.
According to someone familiar with TikTok's internal discussions, the company has been arguing that Trump's executive order was rushed and did not include a way for it to maintain legal representation. The company plans to argue in a courtroom that this violates its due process rights. According to one person familiar with government investigations, if TikTok was being targeted by the Feds, it would have received a subpoena and had a confidential meeting with the White House. Instead, TikTok appeared to be blindsided by the executive order.
Other firms are rushing to develop TikTok like short-form videos for their apps. Facebook-owned Instagram has already launched Reels. This new feature allows users to "Record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and new creative tools. You can share reels with your followers on Feed, and, if you have a public account, make them available to the wider Instagram community." A new TikTok-like app called Clash debuted months ahead of schedule and Snapchat started testing a new feature that records short videos and allows a subscriber to add music to it.
With 100 million users in the U.S., TikTok has already proven the influence its users have by helping some songs chart after appearing on the app. And that is why there is a chance that banning TikTok could backfire on the president. Various news reports say that angry TikTok users of voting age could be compelled to vote if their favorite app disappears in the U.S. in the middle of next month. It surely would be interesting if TikTok subscribers 18 or older turned out to make a difference come November.