TikTok and other Chinese social media apps in danger of US ban

Officials say they’re “looking at” Chinese social media apps to see if they’re security threats

When asked if the US government is concerned about Chinese social media apps, such as the popular video app, TikTok, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it.”

Security concerns are the basis of the distrust of Chinese social media apps. There is concern the Chinese government can access any user data these apps collect. 

TikTok, which has an estimated 80 million active monthly users in the US, has tried to distance itself from its Chinese roots. Earlier this year, the company brought on former Disney executive, Kevin Mayer as CEO in the hopes that an American leader could help calm the waters of regulations worldwide. 

A TikTok spokesperson told CNBC: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US. 

We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,”

The US government has been scrutinizing Chinese technology in recent months amid rising tensions between the two countries. Two major Chinese makers of mobile phones, Huawei and ZTE, have been put under the microscope as more markets embrace 5G technology. Washington fears equipment from these manufacturers could be used for espionage.

As for TikTok, Pompeo obviously isn’t convinced it’s secure. In the Fox News interview, he was asked if Americans should still download the TikTok app. He replied: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

TikTok claims its user data storage is primarily in the United States with a backup in Singapore. TikTok says this puts the data out of the reach of Chinese law. 

The social media company recently launched TicTok for Business, making the timing of this controversy especially unfortunate.

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