TikTok a US security threat, says Trump, similar to Facebook -CNBC

By Thomson Reuters Mar 11, 2024 | 10:09 AM

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday told CNBC on Monday that TikTok was a national security threat but likened it to threats posed by other social media networks such as Meta’s Facebook.

Trump reiterated his concerns as lawmakers weigh a bill this week that would give TikTok owner ByteDance about six months to divest the popular short video app.

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote this week on legislation that gives China’s ByteDance about six months to divest the popular TikTok short video app used by 170 million Americans.

“I’m not looking to make Facebook, double the size. And if you if you ban TikTok, Facebook and others, but mostly Facebook will be a big beneficiary,” Trump said Monday. “And I think Facebook has been very dishonest.”

Trump previously criticized Facebook parent 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.

President Joe Biden said last week he would sign the bill after a committee on Thursday 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.

“This legislation has a predetermined outcome: a total ban of TikTok in the United States,” the company said Friday. “The government is attempting to strip 170 million Americans of their Constitutional right to free expression.”

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, Alphabet’s 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.

Trump’s campaign has not joined TikTok.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Franklin Paul)