Trump says Biden would be ‘responsible’ for any TikTok ban

By Thomson Reuters Apr 22, 2024 | 3:18 PM

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Monday that President Joe Biden was “pushing” for a ban on TikTok and would be the one responsible if a ban were imposed, urging voters to take notice.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation on a 360-58 vote on Saturday that would give TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance about nine months to divest its U.S. operations or face a ban.

The bill now moves to the Senate. If it passes there, Biden has said he would sign it into law.

Trump said in a post on his Truth Social platform on Monday that Biden would be “responsible for banning TikTok. He is the one pushing it to close, and doing it to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant.”

Trump then urged younger voters – who make up a significant portion of the TikTok user base – to consider Biden’s position on Election Day.

However, when he was president in 2020, Trump himself sought to ban TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat over national security concerns but was blocked by the courts.

TikTok, which says it has not and would not share U.S. user data with the Chinese government, has argued that a ban would trample on free speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for the 170 million users of its app in the country.

The company told employees over the weekend in an email seen by Reuters that as soon as Biden signs the legislation “we will move to the courts for a legal challenge. We’ll continue to fight, as this legislation is a clear violation of the First Amendment.”

A White House spokesperson said on Monday: “We do not want to ban apps like TikTok. What we want – and what the legislation we support would do – is ensure that TikTok becomes owned by an American company so that our and our children’s sensitive personal data stays here instead of going to China and so that Americans’ understandings and views can’t be manipulated by algorithms potentially controlled by the PRC.”

Recently, Trump has argued that curbing TikTok would strengthen Meta Platforms’ Facebook, a platform he has criticized since his access was revoked after the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. His account was reinstated last year.

Under the legislation, app stores operated by Apple, Alphabet’s Google and others could not legally offer TikTok or provide web hosting services to ByteDance-controlled applications once the divestment deadline had passed.

In February, Biden’s reelection campaign joined TikTok. Trump’s campaign has not.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)