WASHINGTON – Backing away from a threat he made just days earlier, President Donald Trump said Monday he will wait until next month to take action on TikTok, giving time for Microsoft or some other company to purchase the video sharing app.
Trump had threatened to “ban” the company in the United States late last week but his position softened over the weekend. In a Sunday night blog post, Microsoft said it will “move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance,” with a final decision expected no later than Sept. 15.
“I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business,” unless it surrenders Chinese ownership, Trump told reporters on Monday. “But if somebody…buys it, that’ll be interesting.”
The video sharing platform, currently owned by a Chinese company, has come under scrutiny and investigation in the U.S. over whether it is supplying user data to Beijing, an allegation that company officials have denied.
Noting that its CEO Satya Nadella spoke with Trump over the weekend, Microsoft said in its statement that it is sensitive to concerns than the website could be used for spying.
The company said “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.”
Speaking with reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday, Trump criticized China and threatened to use emergency economic powers or an executive order to ban the Chinese-owned company from the U.S.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said.
The Trump administration is investigating whether the app’s parent company, ByteDance, is harvesting the data of millions of American users. The U.S. Navy last year urged service members to delete the app from government devices.
In an apparent response, TikTok U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video posted on Twitter that “we’re not planning on going anywhere.”
She added: “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.”