President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday effectively banning video-sharing app TikTok from operating in the U.S., saying the country must take aggressive action against the Chinese-owned platform “to protect our national security.”
The order, starting in 45 days time, would ban any U.S. transaction with TikTok-owner ByteDance.
Trump issued a second order taking similar action against WeChat, the social media app owned by China-based tech conglomerate Tencent. He called for action against a “national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain.”
The orders allege that both apps automatically capture vast swaths of information from users and that the collection of this data “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
TikTok responded to the order early Friday with a statement slamming the administration’s actions. The company vowed to “pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded,” including going to court.
In a statement sent to HuffPost, TikTok said it was “shocked” by the order after spending nearly a year in talks with the administration, which “paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
TikTok also encouraged its users to express their opinions to their elected representatives and the White House.
Microsoft said Sunday it is in discussions with ByteDance to acquire the app’s U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations, following a conversation between its CEO Satya Naella and Trump. On Monday, Trump set a September 15 deadline for TikTok to find a U.S. buyer.
Despite Trump’s own affinity for spreading falsehoods about COVID-19, the order also calls out the risk of Chinese government-backed disinformation campaigns “such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.”
TikTok has faced scrutiny and growing unease in the U.S. over privacy concerns and its alleged ties to the Chinese government. In May, the company appointed an American CEO in an effort to ease distrust. TikTok has insisted it has not and will not give data to the Chinese government.
The app has already been banned in several government agencies, including the U.S. military since 2019, over security concerns.
Earlier Thursday, a bill passed the Senate unanimously banning all federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices. Trump had told reporters last Friday of his intention to ban the app.
Many of the app’s users, which are largely aged 13-24, have demonstrated a notable anti-Trump identity. TikTok users took responsibility for a large-scale coordinated effort to flood the Trump campaign site with fake requests for seat reservations at the president’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally in June.
Liza Hearon contributed to this article.