Earlier this week (June 6), the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo claimed that the country’s government is “looking at” banning TikTok, among other Chinese social media apps, due to security concerns. Following Pompeo’s claims, Donald Trump has appeared to confirm that the ban is under consideration.
“It’s something we’re looking at, yes,” Trump says, asked about Pompeo’s remarks in an interview with Greta Van Susteren for Gray Television on Tuesday, as reported by Bloomberg.
However, Trump also appears to be considering taking action against the social media apps for another, slightly different reason, suggesting that it is a retaliation against China for its alleged role in the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a big business,” Trump adds in the interview. “Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”
Trump’s own, consistently poor response to the coronavirus crisis has been widely criticised. As his poll numbers have dropped sharply, parodies have also popped up on TikTok, where users have acted out some of the president’s most absurd speeches about the virus (but we’re sure that has nothing at all to do with his opposition to the platform).
Whether Trump will actually include a TikTok ban as “one of many” ways to hit China is still unconfirmed, but the app recently underwent similar censorship in India. Members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous also targeted the platform earlier this month, urging users to delete it, and stating: “it is essentially malware.”
Since Pompeo first brought up the ban, TikTok has denied any security issues regarding its US operations, adding: “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”