Trump calls TikTok a threat but says some kids could ‘go crazy’ without it. Reuters

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U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday TikTok was a national security threat but also said a ban on the popular app would hurt some kids and only strengthen Meta Platforms’ (META.O), opens new tab Facebook, which the Republican has harshly criticized.
Trump reiterated his concerns as lawmakers weigh a bill this week that would give TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about six months to divest the short video app used by 170 million Americans.
The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on Wednesday under fast-track rules that require two-thirds of members to vote “yes” for the measure to win passage.
TikTok told Congress late Monday in a letter seen by Reuters it is “not owned or controlled by the Chinese government” and argued if the company was sold another buyer would not continue TikTok’s $1.5 billion effort to protect U.S. data.
“Ironically, U.S. user data could be less secure under a divestment scheme,” the company said.
The 2024 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community released on Monday said “TikTok accounts run by a PRC propaganda arm reportedly targeted candidates from both political parties during the U.S. midterm election cycle in 2022.”
Meta Platforms shares closed down 4.4% at $483.59 on Monday. The company declined to comment.
Trump previously criticized the company now called Meta Platforms for revoking his access to Facebook and Instagram after removing two of his posts during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. His accounts were reinstated in February 2023.
Trump also said a TikTok ban could impact young people. “There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it,” he said. “There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok.”
President Joe Biden said last week he would sign the bill after a committee unanimously approved the measure.
TikTok, which says it has not and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, argues the House bill amounts to a ban. It is unclear if China would approve any sale or if TikTok could be divested in six months.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said “we must ensure the Chinese government cannot weaponize TikTok against American users and our government through data collection and propaganda.”
The bill would give ByteDance 165 days to divest TikTok. If it failed to do so, app stores operated by Apple (AAPL.O), opens new tab, Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O), opens new tab Google and others could not legally offer TikTok or provide Web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications.
In 2020, Trump sought to ban TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat but was blocked by the courts.
The app is popular and getting legislation approved by both the House and Senate in an election year may be difficult. Last month, Biden’s re-election campaign joined TikTok.
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