Okay, Is TikTok Actually Getting Banned in the United States?

By | September 18, 2020

Word on the street (and by that I mean…my harrowing news feed) is that TikTok’s getting banned in the United Sates, which means your roommate could stop practicing dance routines in front of the mirror soon.

Talk around the TikTok ban is equal parts highly political and highly confusing (What! Will! Happen! To! The! Hype House!), so we’re breaking it down for you here. But not before forcing everyone to watch Bachelor Peter Weber’s interpretive dance to Roddy Ricch:

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Trump Considered a TikTok Ban to “Punish” China

Which, WTF. “It’s something we’re looking at, yes,” Trump said back in July. “It’s a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”

“We’re gonna keep looking at TikTok; we’re thinking about making a decision because there’s no question what the Big Tech companies are doing is very bad,” he later said, confirming everyone’s worst fears.

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In other words, Trump is blaming China for the coronavirus and his subsequent plummeting poll numbers and wants to retaliate by banning a Chinese business. It isn’t just talk either—he issued an executive order on August 6 “that will effectively ban TikTok unless it is sold to an American buyer,” so there you go.

TikTok execs are pretty pissed about this, and they even filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s executive order, so I guess we should add “TikTok vs. Trump takedown” to the list of weird stuff going down in 2020.

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And yeah, people have feelings—especially given that TikTok users just trolled Trump at his campaign event:

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There’s no denying that everyone’s favorite lockdown app is extremely politicized and caught up in what’s essentially a technology war between China and the United States. As Forbes writer Zak Doffman puts it, “Yes, there are security concerns behind the scenes, but commercial, economic, and political concerns trump those.” Emphasis on “trump,” ahem.

Truly ugh, but aside from Trump’s personal political agenda, let’s talk those data security issues…

There Are Concerns Over TikTok’s Data-Collecting Policies

According to Bloomberg and the New York Times, there’s valid concern the app is collecting information from children under the age of 13 without parental permission—which would be in violation of U.S. privacy laws. On top of that, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo recently claimed officials were considering banning the app to protect Americans’ private data.

*Camera awkwardly cuts to Facebook all…

homer nope

Giphy

Pompeo also straight-up said that Americans shouldn’t download the app if they don’t want their private info to fall “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

So, is TikTok collecting data? Not according to a company spokesperson, who said, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government nor would we do so if asked.”

FYI, India Has Already Banned TikTok

This is a huge deal, not only because it sets the stage for other countries to potentially follow suit but also because—according to The Verge30 percent of TikTok downloads came from India in April alone. The country justified the ban by claiming TikTok “engaged in activities…prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India,” but the BBC reports that there’s more to the story. Apparently, just two weeks before India’s TikTok ban, a skirmish broke out on India’s border with China, which left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

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Oh, and TikTok’s CEO Just Resigned

A few short months after Kevin Mayer took control of TikTok as the CEO, Mayer sent a memo to staff revealing his intent to resign, citing the changing political environment. He wrote:

“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require and what it means for the global role I signed up for. Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decide to leave the company.”

There Was a Purchase Deadline for TikTok

As if this whole thing couldn’t get messier, Trump just made a PSA basically telling China that it had until September 20 to find someone to purchase TikTok or else he will shut down the app’s operations in the United States.

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Walmart, Microsoft, and Oracle were said to be thinking about making the purchase, which is reportedly between $ 15 billion and $ 50 billion. Trump said the U.S. “has to be compensated, well compensated.” On September 13, CNN reported that Oracle ultimately finalized a deal with TikTok as the app’s U.S. operations partner, but “the exact nature of the agreement” between the two companies “remains unclear” as it wasn’t “an outright sale.”

According to The Verge, while this deal was meant to assuage Trump and allay security concerns, having Oracle, which is headed by a wealthy Trump supporter, as TikTok’s “trusted tech partner” ultimately “accomplishes nothing.” Because the deal doesn’t seem to be a sale or legitimate severing of ties with TikTok’s operations in Europe or Asia—as the proposed Microsoft deal intended to do—security concerns remain. As the outlet put it, “If you were concerned about TikTok before, there’s no obvious reason you should be less concerned now.”

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TikTok Will Be Pulled From App Stores Pretty Soon

Yeah, that deal that was supposed to happen to save TikTok from getting the boot? Hasn’t happened. Since there hasn’t been a buyer yet, TikTok will no longer be available to download in American app stores as of this coming Sunday. The purchasing deadline has since been extended to November 12, but that comes with a catch: App updates will not be available to users anymore.

“Basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business News. “If there is not a deal by November 12 under the provisions of the old order then TikTok also will be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

That being said, get your content in while you can!

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