Technology TikTok Lost Half a Million Daily Users After Pompeo Suggested Trump Wanted Ban
What’s Going on With Trump’s TikTok Ban and the Microsoft Deal?
As TikTok users continue to hold their looped breath, Microsoft is again trying to acquire the app after dealing with some Trump-prompted confusion.Trump also weighed in — somewhat confusingly — on a developing (seemingly White House-backed) deal aimed at avoiding the ban between ByteDance, the Chinese internet company which owns the app, and Microsoft. “[It’s] not the deal that you have been hearing about,” Trump continued, “that they are going to buy and sell, and this and that — and Microsoft and another one. We’re not an M&A [mergers and acquisitions] country.
TikTok lost more than 500,000 daily active users after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo teased in the summer that President Donald Trump was considering a ban.
The figure was revealed in court filings on Wednesday as the Chinese-owned company appealed to a U.S. judge to grant an injunction against a Trump administration order that could see the app removed from Apple and Google stores in the U.S. Sunday.
How the forced sale of TikTok could splinter the internet
The first social app to be broken up on national security grounds probably won’t be the lastThe timing was abrupt. The authoritarian cast of President Trump’s remarks on the subject was disturbing. And yet, for those of us who have followed TikTok’s trajectory this year, nothing that has happened over the past two weeks can truly be said to be surprising.
In its submission, TikTok said the Department of Commerce "ignored evidence" and the administration's move was "not motivated by a genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election."
Due to ongoing negotiations about a partial takeover with software company Oracle and retail giant Walmart, the Department of Commerce delayed restrictions against TikTok by a week, moving the start date from September 20 to September 27.
Oracle, TikTok, and the Trump administration have reportedly 'tentatively' reached a deal. Here's everything we know about the partnership that could save TikTok from Trump's threats of a US ban.
Many details of the deal are still unknown, but it appears to satisfy some of the US government's national security concerns while making few changes.Oracle, best known as the leading provider of database software and a $187 billion tech titan in its own right, is the unlikely and unexpected partner the Beijing-based ByteDance has chosen to resolve the matter. But the company emerged as the winner this weekend, after Microsoft confirmed Sunday that its bid for TikTok was turned down.
Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's interim global head, said in a separate legal filing that even before the department's order the app was facing "intense competitive pressure."
The executive wrote in a declaration: "When Secretary of State Pompeo first announced that President Trump was considering a ban of TikTok, we saw a significant drop in our user base, with a reduction of over 500,000 daily active users."
In July, Pompeo said the government was "looking at" TikTok, fueling speculation that it was about to be banned. Citing security concerns, officials from the administration then threatened to outlaw the app unless it was sold to an American firm.
After talks with Microsoft ultimately fell through, a deal with Oracle and Walmart was given "tentative approval" by the government, with the firms acquiring 20 percent of a newly-formed company, TikTok Global. But the situation remains complex.
Imminent restrictions on TikTok by the U.S.—which say the app could still be banned by November—continue to loom over the business negotiations.
President Trump said on Monday that he would not approve the terms if ByteDance, the Chinese-based tech firm that owns the TikTok, maintains any control. Chinese state media blasted the deal in an article yesterday as being "dirty and unfair."
Hillicon Valley: Trump's ban on TikTok, WeChat in spotlight | NASA targeted by foreign hackers | Instagram accused of spying in lawsuit
Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don't already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.ALL ABOUT TIKTOK: The Trump administration announced Friday that it will ban WeChat and TikTok from U.S. app stores starting Sunday.The order is a significant escalation against the two Chinese-owned apps that have massive user bases in the U.S.
It remains unclear how the new company would be structured, who will oversee major decision-making, and how much access will be given over its algorithms.
TikTok and ByteDance have repeatedly denied being a risk to U.S. security and rejected the suggestion its Chinese ownership poses a threat to the data of Americans.
"We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement released back in July.
Painting a dire picture, Pappas said in the filing that removing TikTok from app stores would have consequences for its long-term business, including the ability to recruit staff in the U.S. and its likelihood of retaining content creators from competitors.
"As soon as TikTok is removed... our competitors will have a window to entice TikTok creators to switch platforms and to knock TikTok out of the market," she wrote.
The executive said when rumors of a ban started to spread online, the app was adding roughly 424,000 new daily U.S. users each day. If the full ban in November is allowed to go ahead, Pappas said erosion of its position would "significantly accelerate."
She wrote: "Our modeling indicates that 40–50 percent of our daily active users before the... TikTok ban will not return to TikTok even if the ban is lifted after two months; if the ban is in place for six months, 80–90 percent of daily active users will not return.
"Accordingly, even if the TikTok ban is later lifted, we would not be able to make up for lost ground, because people who would have downloaded TikTok will have already turned to other competing platforms... to fill the void left behind."
Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.
How TikTok could be used for disinformation and espionage .
The popular video-sharing app avoided a nationwide ban this week. But experts say its national security risks remain.The Trump administration's deadline for TikTok to find a new owner came and went this week, a missed milestone that would have rendered the social media app effectively banned in the U.S. as of November 12. Instead, the administration granted the video-sharing app a 15-day reprieve. This gives TikTok until November 27 to be divested from its parent company, ByteDance, possibly through convincing government officials to approve a proposed acquisition deal with Walmart and Oracle.