Tech

Trump issues sweeping executive order against TikTok’s parent company ByteDance

In another escalation of the White House’s vendetta against popular video sharing app TikTok, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order against its parent company ByteDance. This means that, starting 45 days from today, everyone in the U.S. will be banned from doing any business with ByteDance or any of its subsidiaries — including TikTok.

The U.S. government has been making a lot of noise over the past few weeks about TikTok potentially sharing user data with the Chinese government, claiming that the app is a threat to national security. 

Of course, both and already provide foreign governments with user data, but the fact that ByteDance is a Chinese company has been a real sticking point for Trump. Trump also signed an executive order against WeChat and its parent company, Chinese media conglomerate Tencent, which owns League of Legends developer Riot Games and has a significant stake in Fortnite developer Epic Games.

“[TikTok’s] data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” states the executive order.

The executive order also claims TikTok censors content the Chinese government considers “politically sensitive” and can be used to spread disinformation, “such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.” Which is doubly true of Facebook and Twitter, but okay.

TikTok has strenuously denied these accusations, maintaining that the Chinese government has no access to its users’ data. It has also previously acknowledged that while it did censor content critical of the Chinese government, its moderation policy has since changed. 

“Let us be very clear: TikTok does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China. We have never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and we would not do so if asked. Period,” in October last year. 

TikTok also withdrew from Hong Kong in July in response to the controversial new national security laws which could have required it to censor content or supply the government with user data.

Mashable has reached out to TikTok for comment.



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