TikTok founder says Trump is trying to kill off viral video app

TikTok’s founder, Zhang Yiming, has told employees that the forced sale of the viral video app to a US company is “unreasonable” and that America’s real goal is a “comprehensive ban”.

In a letter to employees, Zhang said that the sale was part of the legal process and that the company had no other option except to adhere by the law.

“But this is not their goal, or even what they want. Their real objective is to achieve a comprehensive ban,” he reportedly wrote.

The Independent has reached out to TikTok for confirmation.

In another internal memo, the Zhang told employees that the current “geopolitical and public opinion environment is becoming more and more complex” but that it is “working around the clock and overtime in the past few weeks” to try and resolve the conflict.

TikTok is currently set to be purchased by Microsoft from its parent company Bytedance, which Zhang also founded, by 15 September.

If a sale cannot be made, it will be be banned in the United States, Mr Trump has said.

The Trump administration has expressed concerns over the security of the app and its potential to feed data on American citizens to the Chinese government.

TikTok has denied this would happen; security experts, looking at China’s National Intelligence Law which passed in 2017, said the company would have little choice in the matter.

Mr Trump also said that the United States should receive a “substantial portion” of money in an acquisition deal because the US is “making it possible for this deal to happen”.

The president compared the relationship to that of a landlord and a tenant. Critics have raised issue with the Trump administration profiting from a deal that it has forced on a company.

TikTok is not the only app under fire from the American government. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that it is also looking at restricting the popular Chinese messaging platform WeChat.

“These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat … are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” he said in an interview

“It could be their facial recognition pattern. It could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to. These are true national security issues.”

WeChat has reportedly been found to be controlling information sent by users seemingly at the behest of the Chinese government. The app is owned by Tencent, which also owns the popular video game League of Legends and has a partial stake in other games including Fortnite and PlayerUnknown BattleGrounds (PUBG).

It is unclear whether the Trump administration will take action to separate the Chinese parent company from those properties too.


Leave a Reply