President Trump Proposes Nationwide TikTok Ban

It could take effect later today

In this photo illustration a TikTok logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.
Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Yesterday brought with it speculation that Microsoft was nearing a deal to buy the social media service TikTok — something which would also address questions of TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government. And then, late on Friday night, the president made a declaration that shook up question of TikTok’s future in the US, up to and including whether it would even have a future in the United States. On Air Force One, Donald Trump stated his intention to ban TikTok in the US entirely.

Trump’s comments have led many TickTok users to brace for the worst — and others to look into VPN software for their devices. Writing at The Verge, Tom Warren explained the logistical difficulties that could arise with this ban:

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.

“We’re not planning on going anywhere,” said TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas in a video posted on the service.

The security questions surrounding TikTok remain an urgent question for both the US and the rest of the world. But it’s also worth noting that TikTok has been used to organize anti-Trump efforts — including a large number of TikTok users booking tickets to Trump’s Tulsa rally earlier this summer that they had no plans to use. Is the planned shutdown of TikTok a matter of national security, a distraction from other pressing issues or a way for Trump to remove a service that’s caused him frustration? When it comes to matters like this, there are no easy answers.

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