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Friday, August 14, 2020

Trump hits TikTok's owner again by ordering sale of U.S. operations

President Donald Trump is turning up the heat on TikTok.

Trump issued an executive order late Friday giving ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the popular video-sharing app, 90 days to divest its U.S. operations.

The order comes a week after the president issued a directive barring Americans and U.S. companies from conducting transactions with ByteDance by late September — and amid efforts by suitors such as Microsoft to make a deal to purchase TikTok. Friday's action adds pressure on ByteDance to find a buyer, while giving the U.S. government a chance to object if it does not approve of the choice.

Trump's Friday order echoed the administration's accusations that TikTok's Chinese ownership exposes Americans to a risk of being exposed to data theft or propaganda from Beijing.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” Trump wrote.

ByteDance responded with a statement: "As we've said previously, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We're committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come."

Employees at TikTok said Thursday they planned to challenge Trump's original order.

Trump’s newest order stipulates that ByteDance must destroy all data from its U.S. TikTok users “immediately” after the divestment. The company also must notify the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a multi-agency group that reviews mergers for national security threats, when the destruction of the data has completed.

CFIUS opened an investigation in November into ByteDance‘s 2017 acquisition of for $1 billion, the transaction that led to the creation of the current version of TikTok. The deal wasn’t reviewed at the time.

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