ByteDance has offered to sell TikTok's US operations as a way to avert President Donald Trump's ban, The New York Times reported
San Francisco (AFP) - TikTok said Saturday it was “not planning on going anywhere” after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app from operating in the United States.
TikTok’s general manager for the US, Vanessa Pappas, told users that the company was working to give them “the safest app,” amid US concerns over data security.
“We’re not planning on going anywhere,” Pappas said in a message released on the app.
TikTok, especially popular with young audiences who create and watch its short-form videos, has an estimated one billion users worldwide.
But US officials have raised concerns that it could be used as a tool for Chinese intelligence – a claim the firm, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, has repeatedly denied.
On Friday, Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One that he was moving to bar the app from having any US operations.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said.
ByteDance has offered to sell the app’s US operations as a way to avert Trump’s ban, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.
Earlier media reports had suggested Trump would require that the app’s US operations be divested from ByteDance, but he instead announced a ban.
The proposed divestment would not necessarily affect TikTok’s operations outside the United States, the Times report said.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” the company said when asked for comment on the Times article.
Some reports have indicated that Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy TikTok’s US operations.
- ‘For the long run’ -
The American Civil Liberties Union cried foul over the possibility of a ban on the app.
“Banning an app that millions of Americans use to communicate with each other is a danger to free expression and is technologically impractical,” said the ACLU’s surveillance and cybersecurity counsel, Jennifer Granick.
“With any Internet platform, we should be concerned about the risk that sensitive private data will be funneled to abusive governments, including our own,” Granick said in a statement.
“But shutting one platform down, even if it were legally possible to do so, harms freedom of speech online and does nothing to resolve the broader problem of unjustified government surveillance.”
Pappas said she was “proud” of TikTok’s 1,500 US employees, and also noted the “additional 10,000 jobs” the company plans on creating in the US in the next three years.
“When it comes to safety and security, we’re building the safest app because we know it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
“So we appreciate the support. We’re here for the long run, and continue to share your voice here and let’s stand for TikTok.”