Donald Trump has been going back and forth over whether to ban TikTok. After saying on Friday he would be issuing an executive order prohibiting the app’s usage in the US, Trump backed off those threats over the weekend after speaking with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. As it stands now, Trump is giving Microsoft 45 days to complete its purchase of TikTok or else the Chinese-owned app will be barred from doing any future business with a US company.
On Thursday night, Trump issued an executive order formalizing the 45-day deadline. He also outlined reasons why TikTok should not be allowed to continue operating in the US if it remains under Chinese ownership.
One of those reasons, says the executive order, is that TikTok videos have been used to “spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 novel coronavirus.” Of course, that’s especially rich coming from Trump, whose own social media accounts have repeatedly been flagged for disseminating questionable coronavirus related content. Just this week, both Facebook and Twitter removed a video in which Trump falsely claimed that children were “almost immune” from COVID-19.
The executive order also cites concerns over privacy and data collection, which potentially allow “China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
Trump also accuses TikTok of censoring content “that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities”
Interestingly enough, the executive order makes no mention of the coordinated effort by K-pop stans and TikTok users to sabotage Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma earlier this year. Trump didn’t begin mentioning his concerns over TikTok until after the rally, and some users believe his banning of the app is merely an act of revenge.
Regardless of the real reason, Microsoft has until September 15th to purchase TikTok. Otherwise, “TikTok VPN” is going to become a very popular search term come September 16th.