In a world where distraction has become the most valuable currency going, TikTok has never flown higher; the Chinese-owned social media company, which allows users to post short videos in a way that’s pretty much Vine (but operating in a world where they took Vine away from us, the bastards), has become a phenomenon during quarantine, to the point that “TikTok teens” have become a distinct and fascinating part of the rapidly mutating pop culture ecosystem. But the “China-owned” part of that equation has never sat especially well with the Trump administration—which went after Grindr on similar grounds last year—and now Donald Trump has declared his intention to ban the service in the U.S., which should go super, awesome, amazingly well.
This is per a tweet posted by AP reporter Zeke Miller, who said that Trump issued his statement to the press pool today on Air Force One. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters, adding that he’s also not in favor of the company’s Chinese owners, ByteDance, selling the service off to a U.S. company, as has been previously floated. (Microsoft was rumored to be in the mix for such a sale.) Trump cited emergency economic powers or executive orders as a good way for him to execute this idea that has tumored up in his brain, on account of those avenues not requiring anyone to actually agree with him about this decision.
TikTok has come under criticism for some of its business practices, with users having launched a class action suit alleging that some of their personal data had been taken by the app and transferred overseas, and others alleging that the app didn’t do enough to protect the data of kids using it. (There’s also been a whole web of international investigations into the app’s privacy and data usage policies by a variety of American and European governments, as well as questions about whether the Chinese government has exerted pressure on ByteDance to censor posts or encourage the spread of propaganda.) The app is, if not suspect, then decidedly under suspicion, with India having already banned its use. None of which, we have to imagine, is going to insulate Trump much once the TikTokkers hear about this. (We’re kidding; they’re internet teens, they read about this four hours before we even caught a whiff.) And god, but we can only imagine what sort of hexes the TikTok witches have whipped up to deal with this one.