Secretary of State says Trump administration “seriously” considering banning popular Chinese social media app.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration may take action to limit or ban the Chinese social media app TikTok over fears the communist government in Beijing may be using it for surveillance or to propagandize people, Fox News reported Tuesday.
Interviewed by talk show hostess Laura Ingraham, Pompeo said he and President Trump are taking reports seriously after India banned the app and Australia said it is is considering doing so.
“We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it’s the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo said.
“With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said, but he would not go into specifics and possibly “get ahead” of any presidential decisions on the issue.
Pompeo warned Americans they should use TikTok carefully so as not to put their private information “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
However, after China imposed severe security restrictions on Hong Kong limiting free speech, TikTok announced it will pull out of the region, the BBC reported.
“The company has struggled to fight off suspicions that it operates under Chinese law, or under the control of Beijing,” BBC business analyst Karishma Vaswani said.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S.,” a TikTok spokesperson told the BBC, adding that user safety was their highest priority and that the company “never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
The Chinese-developed app has 800 million active users who can upload lip-synced videos of up to 60 seconds, but Tik Tok “has a darker side,” particularly as a platform to disseminate anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages.
Earlier this year, two high school students in Minnesota were forced to apologize for posting an anti-Semitic clip on TikTok that made a joke of Jews who were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and another video insulting Holocaust survivors over the identification numbers tattooed on their arms by the Nazis. The videos were taken down.
TikTok has also removed numerous videos glorifying Palestinian terrorism that the media watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch brought to the company’s attention.