US President Donald Trump said on Friday he plans to sign an executive order as early as Saturday to ban TikTok, the popular short video app, in the United States.
The US administration has repeatedly in recent weeks expressed concern over national security and the safety of the app, owned by ByteDance, one of China's leading tech companies.
On Friday Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that, "As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States."
Trump said he has the authority to ban the app through an executive order or under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
The move comes amid US media reports that Trump's announcement upended a Microsoft Corp. move to buy TikTok.
According to an exclusive report by Reuters Saturday, the Chinese company has agreed to divest the US operations of TikTok completely in an attempt to save the deal so that Microsoft would completely take over the app in the US.
Under ByteDance’s new proposal, Microsoft, which also owns professional social media network LinkedIn, would be in charge of protecting all of TikTok’s US user data, Reuters reported. This move would assuage any security concerns by the US administration and allow the app to continue to operate in the US.
Whether or not the Trump administration will agree to the proposal remains unclear and Microsoft has so far stayed quiet on the whole affair.
TikTok however has fired back at Trump with US General Manager Vanessa Pappas tweeting a video message to the TikTok community Saturday saying the popular app is "not planning on going anywhere" and dubbing it "the safest app."
"I want to say thank you to the millions of Americans who use TikTok every day bringing their creativity and joy into our daily lives. We've heard your outpouring of support and we want to say thank you. We're not planning on going anywhere," she said.
"TikTok is a home for creators and artists to express themselves, their ideas and connect with people across different backgrounds and we are so proud of all the various communities that call TikTok their home," she added.
Pappas also said she was "proud" of the 1,500 US employees of the company and "the additional 10,000 jobs that we're bringing into this country over the next three years."
Pappas noted the company had recently created a $1 billion US creator fund to "support our creators", adding that "when it comes to safety and security we're building the safest app because we know it's the right thing to do."