President Donald Trump continues to flounder his way through his time in the White House. This week, amidst a slew of other crises that have captured the attention of Americans, Trump was focused for a time on something that seemed entirely political in nature: banning TikTok. Specifically, on Friday, Trump insisted that he would soon be banning TikTok — which is a video-sharing social media app — in the United States. The basis for the Trump administration’s animosity towards the app is its ownership by a Beijing-based company, which some claim could facilitate pressure on the company to hand over data to Chinese authorities. That sounds nefarious, but it’s unclear if there’s a single shred of concrete evidence indicating that it’s actually a possibility in this particular case. A TikTok spokesperson rebuked Trump in a statement following his threat against the app.
The app’s spokesperson noted that the app has brought “entertainment and connection” to people amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, adding:
‘We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform… TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.’
On Saturday, the platform’s US General Manager Vanessa Pappas also issued a statement acknowledging the situation, sharing:
‘We’ve heard your outpouring of support… we’re not planning on going anywhere… We’re here for the long run.’
During a Friday talk with reporters, Trump said:
‘As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.’
Trump claimed that he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order as the legal basis for his ban of the app, but it’s unclear how either of those options could actually stand up in court.
Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical. https://t.co/ZbN7f2TOwF
— ACLU (@ACLU) August 1, 2020
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken the Trump administration to court numerous times, didn’t seem impressed. In a late Friday/ early Saturday statement, they said:
‘Banning an app like TikTok, which millions of Americans use to communicate with each other, is a danger to free expression and technologically impractical.’
It’s incredible that — among other things — the Coronavirus is still rampaging across the United States, and this is what the president is concerned about. Death tolls from the virus are spiking again, but Trump refuses to even take the situation seriously — he talks ad nauseum about the fact that increased levels of testing mean that higher numbers of cases get confirmed, as if that’s supposed to be clever or something. The virus would still be spreading — and sickening and killing people — whether or not a single test was performed. And what’s the president doing? Golfing, tweeting nonsense, and ranting about how he’s supposedly going to ban TikTok.