President Donald Trump said he could act to ban the world’s most popular short video app TikTok from the US as early as Saturday, according to The Hill.
The president said he could use “emergency economic powers or an executive order” to bar TikTok from the US, he told reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday.
The news came hours after reports broke that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok. In his remark on Friday, Trump signaled he was not supportive of allowing an American company to acquire TikTok.
On the same day, Bloomberg reported that Trump could order ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok.
Trump’s announcement confirmed weeks of speculation that US regulators planned to block TikTok, which is immensely popular among American teens, over concerns that it could be a spying tool for Beijing.
The question is how a divestment or ban of TikTok will take shape. TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, which has emerged as the most promising tech startup in China in recent times, reportedly valued at a staggering $100 billion. It operates Douyin, the popular Chinese version of TikTok, separately for China-based users.
ByteDance has sought various ways to shed TikTok’s Chinese association. Efforts in the past few months range from appointing former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as TikTok’s CEO, claiming the app’s data is stored on American land, through to promising to create 10,000 jobs in the US.
The story is updating.