On Friday, as rumors swirled that Microsoft was planning on buying TikTok, President Trump said he would “ban” the Chinese-owned video app from the United States because of concerns the Chinese government may get access to US users’ data. But keep in mind that Trump makes a lot of promises, many of which never come to fruition.
For example, in July alone, Trump said he would:
- “Sign” a “full and complete health care plan” by the end of the month. (No such plan has been signed. He’s been promising a comprehensive health care plan since before he was elected.)
- Sign an executive order on immigration that includes “a road to citizenship” for “Dreamers” covered by the Obama Administration’s DACA protections. (He doesn’t have the authority to do that. Nor has he even tried.)
- Unveil a “very, very powerful” government strategy to combat COVID-19. (When a reporter asked about this strategy on Friday, Trump replied, “Well I think you’re seeing it, and I think you will see it.” He ended the press conference shortly thereafter.)
And with TikTok, there is also the question of whether Trump has the authority to enforce such a ban. According to Axios, Trump’s TikTok threat may have some teeth because the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) “has been reviewing ByteDance’s 2017 acquisition of the US app Musical.ly and eventually merged with TikTok.”
In response, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, has offered to fully divest the US operations of TikTok and let Microsoft take over management of US user data, Reuters reported Saturday.
According to the New York Times, the president is considering a number of options, such as invoking the Emergency Economic Powers Act to ban TikTok from app stores. Whether he will follow through, however, is anyone’s guess.
In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the videos that make the platform so popular, like comedian Sarah Cooper’s lip synch videos of the president.
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