TikTok, a massively popular app known for short videos, is being faced with political heat due to its ties to China.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump Administration was considering banning Chinese social media apps, especially TikTok. Pompeo said that people should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said in an interview on Fox News. “I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”
TikTok had 315 million downloads in the first three months of this year, according to Sensor Tower, and is seen as the first Chinese social media platform to build a wide user base outside China.
Earlier this week, following a report in The Wall Street Journal, the company said it was considering changes to its corporate structure, including setting up a headquarters outside China and installing a new board of directors.
“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 spokesperson for the company said following Pompeo’s remarks. “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.”
Its parent company, ByteDance, is based in Beijing.
Pompeo’s remarks come after low attendance at President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20 was blamed, in part, on TikTok activists and KPop fans who trolled the campaign by signing up for tickets they had no intention of using.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, on June 15, said more than one million tickets had been requested for the rally. The Tulsa fire department estimated fewer than 6,200 people attended the event.