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Photography Kon Karampelas, via Unsplash

The US government is ‘looking at’ banning TikTok, says secretary of state

In a recent interview, Mike Pompeo claimed that several Chinese apps are under review due to security concerns

In a recent interview, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that the government is “looking at” banning various Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, over privacy and national security concerns.

“With respect to Chinese apps on people's cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said in the Fox News interview on Monday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I don't want to get out in front of the president, but it's something we're looking at.”

Talking about TikTok specifically, Pompeo added that users should only download it “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”.

It’s easy to see why the Trump administration wouldn’t be sympathetic towards the app, since TikTokers were partially credited with the pathetic turnout at the President’s Tulsa rally on June 19, aka Juneteenth, among other attempts to troll him via the platform. 

However, in a rare turn of events, the government’s message also seems to echo that of the worldwide hacktivist collective Anonymous, which urged users to delete TikTok last week (July 1). “It is essentially malware operated by the Chinese government running a massive spying operation,” Anonymous claims.

“TikTok is harvesting data on children/teens to monitor their market reach and political development, to find the best methodologies to coerce them within the next five to ten years,” adds the hacktivist group. “This gives China an upper hand on manipulating large swaths of society across several countries”.

The same week (June 29), India banned TikTok along with 58 other China-based apps including WeChat, also citing privacy and national security concerns.

However, a TikTok spokesperson has defended the app’s US presence in a recent statement, saying: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US.”

“We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,” the spokesperson claims. “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”