Updated: Aug 20
By now you have probably heard, in true reality star fashion, President Trump made good on his threat to ban TikTok on Thursday August 6th 2020 .
Trump has issued an executive order which bars the wildly popular video app's parent company, ByteDance, from conducting business transactions with other American companies beginning in mid September.
Trump's interest in TikTok came after thousands of TikTok users banned together to throw off his Tulsa Oklahoma Rally, originally scheduled on Juneteenth, during the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement. They posted videos encouraging others to buy tickets to Trump's Tulsa rally so there would be thousands of empty seats. Thanks to the wit of these young TikTokers, the rally was a huge disappointment and Trump found a way to exact revenge on his constituents. With Tiktok's nearly 1 billion active users, most of which are of legal age to vote, Trump may have put nails in his own coffin with the ban of TikTok.
"You may have won the battle but you will lose the war."
The Trump administration claims apps from China are national security threats.
"This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage," reads the TikTok order.
Trumps sudden concern for the safety of data for US citizens seems incredibly insincere and his timing is suspicious. His own campaign has been publicly outed for using Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 elections, and then selling the voter data to, you guessed it, Russia. Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm known for their misappropriation of digital assets, data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis. In other words, they store user data that is harvested from online behavior, apps, and other places. You may remember their name from the trial with Facebook over the same matter.
TikTok said in a recent statement that it's U.S. user base information is stored solely in the U.S. and backed up in Singapore, not in China. There has never been any issue with user data being shared, hacked or even unsafe. There are claims that TikTok data is safer than Facebook data, but Facebook has no big ties to China, the users are older and didn't tank Trump's Rally so they aren't the focus of this witch hunt.
"The executive order is a blow to TikTok, which has achieved massive global growth as people looked for ways to be entertained at home during the COVID-19 pandemic." says Wendy Lee of the LA Times. Small Businesses have used Tiktok to market their business, and they've offered free training through the app to other small businesses, creating a strong community of entrepreneurs helping each other grow during this hard economical time. Artists have used TikTok to promote their songs, art, and talents, and young video creators have made a breakthrough with brand deals on TikTok while offering a mental break to their followers through dance challenges and comedy. Many say, Tiktok has made quarantine more bearable. Just ask the thousands of Tiktok moms. It's also been a place for LGBT groups to meet, entertain and gain support from their peers. One thing for sure, TikTok will not go down without a fight.
TikTok is in the process of exploring a deal to sell its U.S. operations to Microsoft. Trump has claimed to be open to such a deal as long as some of the proceeds go to the U.S. Treasury, a condition that raises legal questions, but there must always be something in it for Trump.
“There’s nothing specific that says you can do this,” said Will Delgado, a founding partner at DTO Law.
“You do have a president that has a different type of mindset than any kind of previous presidents and maybe it just hadn’t occurred to other presidents in the past.”
The purchaser of TikTok USA would have legal standing to challenge such a requirement, if they so choose. Microsoft said in a statement Sunday that it is “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”
1,500 people in the U.S. are currently employed by TikTok whose USA headquarters are in Culver City, California. In a statement released by Tiktok they said they plan to add 10,000 more jobs over the next three years.
Instagram has made a move to fill the TikTok void if the ban does go into effect with their new Insta Reels which has many of the same features as TikTok. It is a backup plan TikTokers are hoping they won't need, yet getting to know just in case. Many wonder how far the Trump Administration will go with their attack on Social Media and free speech. It is a right Trump uses to voice is own opinions on Twitter, yet one he seems to want to remove for his citizens.
Once again, Trump has proved that America is his playground and he will bully anyone who doesn't play the way he chooses.
In the next 45 days, the TikTok creators will continue to entertain and educate. Though the app, they will educate the first time voters on how to register to vote, and when to vote, as well as how to vote by mail to ensure their vote is received and counted in time. TikTok could be a great asset to a political candidate, or a large community against one who they feel attacked by.
Sometimes I feel Trump gets a bad wrap with media, and wonder why he doesn't retire with his billions and leave the drama behind. Now, we will see how social media receives his newest act of power and if they give him the same leniency he receives from within his cabinet. Anyone want to place a bet? I've got $100 on the TikTok Voters!
For how the Covid-19 Pandemic has changed marketing, click here.