Trump Banning TikTok, Surely Not Because The TikTok Teens Ruined His Tulsa Rally
Trump announced on Friday night that he would be banning the wildly popular social media app TikTok, most likely today, on the grounds that his administration suspects the Chinese government could use it to spy on us and copy all of our most precious dance moves.
Back in June, hundreds of thousands of TikTok users registered to attend Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with no intention of showing up. This caused the administration to expect a far higher turnout than the 6,200 people who actually showed up, which ended up being very hilarious for everyone watching at home, given how much they had bragged about how many people had signed up. Not only did they have to cancel their overflow satellite rally, but the stadium was very sparsely filled.
Surely, this has absolutely nothing to do with the decision to ban the app.
Via The Verge:
"I will sign the document tomorrow," said Trump on Friday night, indicating that a ban could take effect "essentially immediately."
The threat of a TikTok ban has been lingering since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the possibility on July 7th, saying it was "something we're looking at." TikTok is a subsidiary of Beijing-based ByteDance, and critics have called out its privacy practices and potential ties to the Chinese government. Pompeo also compared TikTok to Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese companies that have been designated as threats to US national security.
On Friday, there were rumors that ByteDance would simply be forced to divest from the app, and that a company like Microsoft would buy them out. Trump, however, has decided not to allow that. For reasons. He just wants them gone.
For their part, TikTok says they're not going anywhere. Vanessa Pappas, the U.S. General Manager of TikTok, put out a video Saturday morning saying that they have ever intention of being around — in the United States — for a long while, and thanking all of the creators that had helped to make the app a success.
A message to the TikTok community. https://t.co/UD3TR2HfEf— TikTok (@TikTok)1596291330.0
And she may be right. Actually banning the app would be extremely difficult to actually do, and would, ironically, require something like the Great Firewall of China. As The Verge explains, this would be unprecedented in U.S. law.
It's still not clear exactly how the Trump administration will force a TikTok ban in the US. There are variety of different methods, but a network block like China's Great Firewall would simply be unprecedented in the US. American law doesn't have any precedent for blocking software in such a way, so it's unlikely that the White House will be able to immediately block TikTok with a network ban.
Then again, a whole lot of things involving this administration are pretty unprecedented. And not in a good way. Trump's plan so far appears to be just issuing an executive order and expecting the app to just disappear into the ether.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse