US President Donald Trump has said he will take action as soon as Saturday to ban TikTok, a popular Chinese-owned video app. The app has been a source of national security and censorship concerns with fears Chinese officials have been using it to spy on users.
The US President said that he will ban the popular short-form video app TikTok from operating in the United States.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said to reporters while aboard Air Force One.
Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order.
It was not immediately clear what such an order would look like.
“Well, I have that authority,” he said.
Mr Trump’s comments follow the release of published reports that claim the administration is planning to order China’s ByteDance to sell TikTok.
There were also reports on Friday that software giant Microsoft is in talks to buy the app.
The US president also made clear he did not support an American company in purchasing TikTok’s US operations.
This comes after an earlier report claimed Microsoft was ‘in talks’ to acquire the platform.
Sources previously told the New York Times that the deal is in the works, but were unclear where the two firms stood.
TikTok has raised concern among worldwide and US officials over its potential national security threat.
The app has some 800 million users worldwide.
Currently 80 million Americans use the app, which has raised concerns among officials citing TikTok’s data collection that may end up in the hands of Chinese officials.
“We are looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday.
“We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”
However, Microsoft was said to be in talks with ByteDance for ownership on Friday.
Bloomberg reported that Trump plans to make a decision to order ByteDance to sell its ownership of TikTok in the US.
Talks of banning the app came in early July after Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced he was looking to block the Chinese-made social media giant along with almost 60 similar apps.
Mr Pompeo said the ban was a response to fears the Chinese app may be used by the Beijing government to deliver propaganda and to spy on users.
Speaking to Laura Ingraham on The Ingraham Angle on Fox News, Pompeo said he and Trump are taking reports of Beijing surveillance and propaganda through TikTok and other apps incredibly seriously.
He said: “We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it’s the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security.”
He continued: “With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too.”