Leaked White House document shows how U.S. plans to hurt TikTok financially

Leaked White House document shows how U.S. plans to hurt TikTok financially
With short-form video app TikTok about to be banned in the U.S. starting in the middle of next month, a Harris Poll that was shared with USA Today found that 64% of adult Americans are against the presidential executive order that will end the app's presence in the states. The order was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump because the app's parent company, ByteDance, is a Chinese company. Many U.S. lawmakers and members of the Trump administration believe that Chinese manufacturers use backdoors embedded in their products to capture data from consumers and companies and send it to the Communist Chinese government.

64% of Americans oppose the president's executive order against TikTok

While a majority of those adults polled are against Trump's executive order, 57% of all Americans agreed with the move by the president to kick TikTok out of the states. However, those answering the poll were 18 years of age or older while most TikTok users are younger. The app has been installed two billion times from the App Store and the Google Play Store. Content includes lip-syncing, dancing, pranks, protests, singing, and more. During the pandemic, TikTok picked up interest from those who were stuck at home.

Microsoft has reportedly been looking at buying the North America, Australia, and New Zealand operations of TikTok although company founder Bill Gates has stated his reservations. Twitter has supposedly has had preliminary meetings with TikTok to form some sort of combination. However, this would be quite a longshot considering that the estimated valuation of TikTok is well above the $30 billion that Twitter is worth. But even if a deal with a U.S. firm is completed, the Harris Poll found that 62% of Americans would continue to believe that the app would pose a national security threat because of its ties to China. The rest of the poll saw 67% of Americans worried that the Chinese are using personal data collected by TikTok, a sentiment agreed to by 59% of TikTok users.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported today that a document from the White House indicates how the U.S. plans to impact TikTok's operations in the country. One way that this could happen is by disrupting the app's operations and sources of funding. A source inside the White House verified the authenticity of the document which said, "Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores ... purchasing advertising on TikTok, and accepting terms of service to download the TikTok app onto a user device." Industry analysts say that if the ban prevents TikTok from appearing in the App Store and the Google Play Store, the result would sharply damper the growth of the app.

Also facing a ban in the U.S. is messaging, social media, and mobile payment app WeChat. The latter, launched by Tencent in 2011, has over one billion users and many Chinese consumers rely on the app every single day. Trump also signed an executive order that will ban U.S. firms from doing business with WeChat. The White House document seen by Reuters is not clear on whether WeChat will indeed be banned in the states.

The U.S. ban on TikTok would take effect starting on September 16th, the same date that any WeChat ban would also begin. James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, "That kills TikTok in the U.S. If they want to grow, these rules are a huge obstacle." Lewis did note that the U.S. government might not be able to prevent American TikTok fans from downloading the app from a foreign website. TikTok has 100 million users in the U.S. and has stated that data from its U.S. subscribers is stored on servers in the U.S. and Singapore and that such information would not be given to the Chinese government.

TikTok says that it plans to continue honoring ad campaigns although some corporations say that they have made plans to advertise on other apps if TikTok is shut down in America.
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