Following news late Friday that President Donald Trump plans to ban TikTok in the U.S., the popular social media app responded to Trump’s claim, with U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas taking to the platform to tell TikTok users it will not be leaving the U.S., and that TikTok is a safe and secure app for users.
“We’ve heard your outpouring of support, and we want to say thank you. We’re not planning on going anywhere,” Pappas said in the video. “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. I’m also proud of our 1,500 U.S. employees who work on this app every day, and the additional 10,000 jobs that we’re bringing into this country over the next three years. I’m thrilled about our U.S. creator fund, where we just announced our $1 billion fund to support our creators, and when it comes to safety and security, we’re building our safest app because we know it’s the right thing to do. So we appreciate the support, we’re here for the long run and continue to share your voice here, and let’s stand for TikTok.”
Multiple reports surfaced Saturday saying that Chinese parent company ByteDance has offered to completely divest its American operations for the app. Reuters first reported the news, and Axios reported that Trump has “a deal on his desk” that would have Microsoft lead a total purchase of TikTok’s U.S. operations.
When Rolling Stone reached out to TikTok Friday night for a comment, a spokesperson for the app said in a statement, “These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
Trump said he would ban the app after weeks of hinting at the potential decision, citing national security concerns linked to TikTok’s ties to China and the risk of the Chinese government gaining access to American users’ data. Microsoft has reportedly been in talks to purchase the app. It would be a major pickup for Microsoft, which already owns business networking social media app LinkedIn. Microsoft would enter a competitive market, with several rival apps like Triller and Byte trying to overtake TikTok in popularity with its future was uncertain; popular TikTok creator Josh Richards joined Triller as the app’s chief strategy officer this week, and Facebook-owned Instagram is readying the launch of a TikTok-like Reels feature on the app. Instagram is reportedly paying popular TikTok creators to make content on the app.
Trump’s Friday claim goes against a Bloomberg report that said Trump was planning to announce an order forcing TikTok to cut off its U.S. ownership of the app. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on the way back to Washington from Florida, the Washington Post reported. According to the Post, he also said he was against a deal that would sell TikTok to a U.S. based company.
The federal government has been investigating TikTok over national security concerns. Trump and members of his cabinet have previously said they’d considered banning the app. Meanwhile, TikTok has been bolstering its U.S. presence in Los Angeles in part to distance itself from its Chinese ownership, including with the hire of former Disney-exec Kevin Mayer as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance. Wells Fargo has restricted employees from downloading the app on corporate devices over security concerns, and Amazon briefly said it would do the same but quickly backtracked on that statement.
TikTok has surged in popularity since it bought lip-syncing app Musical.ly in 2017 and merged it with its app, launching TikTok in the U.S. Since then, along with becoming the de facto Generation Z social media app, TikTok has proven a valuable tool in the music industry, popularizing several of the biggest songs of the year like Roddy Ricch’s “The Box” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.” It’s become a popular discovery tool for record labels too, with major labels taking on burgeoning performers like Breland and Jawsh 685, who’ve made viral TikTok songs. Hollywood agents have been scooping up TikTok talent as well, with brands paying popular creators thousands of dollars for sponsored content on their TikTok pages.