TikTok, new victim of the deterioration of relations between Washington and Beijing

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Donald Trump suddenly announced his intention to ban the social network TikTok on the evening of Friday, July 31. On his way back from a trip to Florida, where he visited in the early afternoon, the President said: “Regarding TikTok, we ban it in the United States”. “I have the authority”, assured the president, evoking the signing of an executive decree without however giving more details to the journalists who accompanied him aboard Air Force One. TikTok did not immediately react to this statement, which has not been supported by any official White House statement.

Read also US politicians fear TikTok could be used to interfere in elections

On leaving Washington a dozen hours earlier, Donald Trump had been more evasive. “We are looking at TikTok. We may ban TikTok. We may do other things. There are several options. But there’s a lot going on, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking for many alternatives compared to TikTok ”, he had briefly indicated before this trip linked to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Wall Street Journal, one of these options would have been a takeover of the US part of TikTok by a national company, in this case the giant Microsoft. This lead would have enabled the White House to avoid two potential pitfalls: legal guerrilla warfare and the disapproval of users of this essentially playful video-sharing platform.

Propaganda

A true social media phenomenon, it has grown at an astounding rate since its inception and has become extremely popular, especially with young people. It has nearly a billion users worldwide. Containment linked to Covid-19 has accentuated its rise in the United States. It was second only to the Zoom conferencing app in number of downloads in the first half of 2020, according to market research firm Sensor Tower. The app has been downloaded over 180 million times in the United States.

According to the American press, TikTok has for months been the subject of an investigation by the Committee for Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), which examines these investments from a national security perspective. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is indeed a Chinese technology company headquartered in Beijing. The company invested nearly a billion dollars in 2017 (850 million euros) to acquire an American social video application, Musical.ly, which was then the counterpart of TikTok.

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