(WSJ) President Trump issued an order late Friday calling on TikTok’s Chinese owner to divest itself of the video-sharing app’s U.S. operations, setting a 90-day deadline for the transaction to be completed.
In his order, Mr. Trump said that Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States” and ordered it to sell off any assets that it uses to support ByteDance’s operation of TikTok within the country’s borders.
A TikTok representative didn’t directly respond to the order, but issued a statement saying the company “is committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”
The company has repeatedly disputed U.S. claims that it would share information on American users with the Chinese government.
The order late Friday concludes an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign entities for possible security risks. It is the latest in a series of recent actions against TikTok by the White House.
Mr. Trump on Aug. 7 signed an executive order that effectively set a 45-day deadline for an American company to purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations.
Those talks had already been under way, with Mr. Trump telling reporters a week earlier that he was prepared to ban TikTok in the U.S.
Microsoft Corp. and Twitter Inc. have had talks about an acquisition, and several investment and technology firms are also exploring a potential deal.
Friday’s order also called for ByteDance to inform national-security officials who sit on the Cfius panel that it has destroyed any data it got from TikTok users or that it acquired when it purchased a similar app, Musical.ly, in 2017.
Cfius, a panel of federal agencies that reviews deals involving foreign money to ensure they don’t put the country’s national-security at risk, has scrutinized ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, a Shanghai-based platform that had built a strong U.S. user base.
After the acquisition, Musical.ly’s platform was discontinued, and users who wanted to share videos could continue to do so on TikTok’s platform.
The acquisition fueled TikTok’s growth within the U.S. TikTok’s platform, filled with user-made dance and music videos, has been downloaded more than 180 million times in the U.S., according to market-research firm Sensor Tower.
U.S. officials say they are concerned that ByteDance officials could pass on data they collect from Americans streaming videos on TikTok to the Chinese government. TikTok has said it would never do so.
Source: Wall Street Journal by Katy Stech Ferek