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TikTok Twitter

Twitter, TikTok Have Held Preliminary Talks About Possible Combination – The Wall Street Journal

Twitter Inc. has had preliminary talks about a potential combination with TikTok, the popular video-sharing app that the Trump administration has declared a national-security threat due to its Chinese ownership, according to people familiar with the matter.

It is unclear whether Twitter will pursue a deal with TikTok, which would face significant challenges. A deal would involve TikTok’s U.S. operations, the people said.

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TikTok Trump

TikTok To Sue Trump Administration On President’s Executive Order Ban – NPR

President Trump’s executive order prohibits transactions between U.S. citizens and TikTok’s parent company starting in 45 days.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP


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Mark Schiefelbein/AP

President Trump’s executive order prohibits transactions between U.S. citizens and TikTok’s parent company starting in 45 days.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

TikTok is planning to sue the Trump administration, challenging the president’s executive order banning the service from the United States.

The video-sharing app hugely popular with the smartphone generation will file the federal lawsuit as soon as Tuesday, according to a person who was directly involved in the forthcoming suit but was not authorized to speak for the company. It will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, where TikTok’s American operations are based, the person said.

NPR has learned that the lawsuit will argue that President Trump’s far-reaching action is unconstitutional because it failed to give the company a chance to respond. It also alleges that the administration’s national security justification for the order is baseless, according to the source.

“It’s based on pure speculation and conjecture,” the source said. “The order has no findings of fact, just reiterates rhetoric about China that has been kicking around.”

The White House declined to comment on the expected litigation but defended the president’s executive order. “The Administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber related threats to critical infrastructure, public health and safety, and our economic and national security,” according to White House spokesman Judd Deere.

What the Thursday night executive order does

Under the president’s Thursday night executive order, “any transaction” between a U.S. citizen and TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, will be outlawed in 45 days for national security reasons.

Such a sweeping ban would be fatal for TikTok in the U.S.

It is popular among teenagers and 20-somethings in the U.S., where more than 100 million users have downloaded the app. They use it to share dances and comedy skits in 60-second video bites, which often go viral. The app is such a cultural phenomenon that it has become a platform to discover new music and has even launched several breakout hits that have topped the Billboard charts.

The app has also been used to antagonize the president, including when thousands of teens reserved tickets to the president’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., with no intention of going, inflating the Trump campaign’s expectations for the event and causing embarrassment over the disappointing turnout.

If the presidential ban goes into effect, the app may no longer be able to send software updates, rendering TikTok unmanageable on smartphones and eventually nonfunctional.

The president’s executive order stands to cut off American advertisers on its app and force Apple and Google to remove it from mobile app stores.

TikTok’s more than 1,000 U.S.-based employees could have their paychecks indefinitely frozen. It could force landlords housing TikTok operations to evict them. And Trump’s order could make it impossible for American lawyers to represent TikTok in any U.S. legal proceedings.

The source familiar with TikTok’s internal discussions on the matter says the president’s order appeared rushed and did not include carveouts or exceptions for TikTok to maintain any legal representation, which the company plans to argue is a violation of due process rights.

Trump Signs Executive Order That Will Effectively Ban Use Of TikTok In the U.S.

Typically, if the federal government launches an investigation, it will inform the company with a subpoena or some other kind of notice demanding a response to allegations of misconduct or malfeasance. Federal investigators at times also call representatives of the company for a confidential meeting about a looming enforcement action.

According to those working on TikTok’s legal team, no such outreach from the White House requesting evidence took place before Thursday’s executive order. TikTok lawyers view that as shortcutting standard procedure.

As such, the president’s move took many inside TikTok aback.

Officials at TikTok acknowledged as much in its response to the order. “We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” TikTok said in a statement. “The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed ‘reports’ with no citations, fears that the app ‘may be’ used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world.”

Officials at TikTok declined to publicly comment on the looming legal battle.

Breaking the TikTok ban carries a $300,000 fine

Violating the order carries stiff penalties. After the 45-day period, doing business with TikTok could result in a $300,000 fine per violation and “willful” offenders could even face criminal prosecution.

Another issue that may be raised in TikTok’s legal challenge is the argument that Trump overstepped his authority.

The order was issued in part under an executive power known as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which arms the president with broad authority to impose economic sanctions when presented with an “unusual and extraordinary threat,” such as a risk to national security.

There are exceptions to that power that lawyers for TikTok will likely underscore in their litigation. For instance, the authority cannot be used to regulate or prohibit either “personal communication” or sharing of film and other forms of media, which TikTok can argue is the primary use of its app.

If Congress believes the president has used the emergency economic powers unjustly, lawmakers can overrule the order by passing a resolution that would terminate the order.

But any pushback from Congress is unlikely, as the skepticism about the Chinese Communist Party’s potential ties to the country’s technology companies has gathered bipartisan support.

Already, the Senate, by a unanimous vote, passed a bill Thursday banning TikTok on all government-issued devices.

Washington fears China access to American citizens’ data

TikTok’s terms of service spells out what it captures from users, including location data, browsing history and personal contacts.

The app also informs users that data can be shared with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. This has has stirred fears in Washington that authorities in the Chinese government could potentially gain access to American citizens’ data and put that information to use in a blackmailing scheme or in a targeted disinformation campaign.

Class-Action Lawsuit Claims TikTok Steals Kids' Data And Sends It To China

Neither the Trump administration nor TikTok critics outside of government have offered evidence that the short-form video app has ever cooperated with Chinese authorities.

Some technology experts say the worries over China are warranted.

Former White House official Lindsay Gorman, who is now a fellow with the Alliance for Securing Democracy, told NPR that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is ultimately beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.

“The harsh reality of how businesses operate in China means that if the CCP wants that data, it will get it,” Gorman said.

She added: “Leaving TikTok in Chinese ownership creates an information space vulnerability at a time leading up to an election when political communication is increasingly happening on the platform.”

TikTok officials see the executive order as essentially a pressure campaign, a way of forcing an American company to move quickly to acquire the app’s U.S. assets.

Microsoft — the American tech giant that owns Xbox, LinkedIn and Skype — is already in talks to buy TikTok, but those discussions are in the early stages.

Editor’s note: TikTok helps fund NPR content that appears on the social media platform.

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TikTok Trump

Trump says he will ban TikTok through executive action as soon as Saturday – CNBC

U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with leadership from the National Association of Police Organizations in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, July 31, 2020.

Anna Moneymaker | The New York Times | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he will act soon to ban Chinese-owned video app TikTok from the United States, NBC News reported.

Trump made the comments while chatting with reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington from Florida.

“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said, calling the action a “severance.”

Trump did not specify whether he will act through an executive order, or another method. such as a designation, according to NBC News.

“Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said.

A TikTok spokesperson told NBC News that the app helped to create jobs across the U.S. and was committed to user privacy.

“We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the U.S.,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Our $1 billion creator fund supports U.S. creators who are building livelihoods from our platform.

“TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access,” the statement said. “TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”

Trump’s comments come as it was reported Friday that Microsoft has held talks to buy the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, one person close to the situation told CNBC. This person characterized the talks as having been underway for some time, rather than being brand new.

Trump told reporters that he didn’t support the reported spinoff deal involving Microsoft buying TikTok, NBC News reported.

A TikTok acquisition could make Microsoft, a major provider of business software, more concentrated on consumer technology, which Microsoft has moved away from somewhat in recent years, by exiting the smartphone hardware, fitness hardware and e-book markets.

Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said in 2018 that in recent years the company had been consistent in its strategy on acquiring “networked assets” with many users, including LinkedIn.

Chinese company ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017. The app has grown more popular during the coronavirus pandemic, with 2 billion downloads in April, according to Sensor Tower. Competitors include Facebook and Snap.

ByteDance investors seeking to take over TikTok have valued it at $50 billion, Reuters reported earlier this week.

Microsoft declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by Fox Business Network.

“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” TikTok said in a statement Friday.

The rise of TikTok in the U.S. has prompted the Trump Administration to scrutinize the app.

Trump said earlier on Friday that the administration was looking at various options for what to do with TikTok, including banning the app.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was looking at banning TikTok as well as other Chinese social media apps, citing national security concerns. Pompeo added that the Trump administration was evaluating TikTok akin to Chinese state-backed tech companies Huawei and ZTE, which he has previously described as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”

In 2018, the Pentagon halted sales of Huawei and ZTE mobile phones and modems on military bases around the world, again citing national security concerns.

U.S. officials have long complained that Chinese intellectual property theft has cost the economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs and threatens national security. Beijing maintains it does not engage in intellectual property theft.

The move by the Trump administration represents another step in the deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing and comes a week after the U.S. closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, prompting China to shutter the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.

The Pentagon has taken concrete steps to discourage U.S. service members and their families from using Chinese-backed tech.

In December, the Defense Information Systems Agency advised that all Department of Defense personnel should not use the Chinese-owned social media platform, citing a “potential risk associated with using the TikTok app.”

CNBC’s Steve Kopack and NBC’s Josh Lederman contributed to this report

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Market TikTok

TikTok says it will exit Hong Kong market within days – CNBC

The Logo of social media app TikTok (also known as Douyin) is displayed on a smartphone on December 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Trutschel | Photothek | Getty Images

TikTok will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday, as other technology companies including Facebook have suspended processing government requests for user data in the region.

The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman said in response to a Reuters question about its commitment to the market.

The company, now run by former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China.

TikTok has also said previously that it would not comply with any requests made by the Chinese government to censor content or for access to TikTok’s user data, nor has it ever been asked to do so.

The Hong Kong region is a small, loss-making market for the company, one source familiar with the matter said. Last August, TikTok reported it had attracted 150,000 users in Hong Kong.

Globally, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times through the Apple and Google app stores after the first quarter this year, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

The source said the move was made because it was not clear if Hong Kong would now fall entirely under Beijing’s jurisdiction.

TikTok was designed so it could not be accessed by mainland China. That was part of a strategy to appeal to a more global audience.

ByteDance operates a similar short video sharing app called Douyin in China.

Although there are no current plans to introduce Douyin to the Hong Kong market, a ByteDance spokesman said, the app already has a sizeable audience in the Asian financial center as Chinese on the mainland travel and stay in Hong Kong.

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India's TikTok

India’s TikTok influencers respond to government ban – CNN

(CNN)India’s TikTok influencers are urging their fans to follow them on other social media platforms after the government announced a ban on the popular video-sharing app.

TikTok was one of 59 apps, including Chinese messaging platform WeChat and mobile browser UC Browser, banned by the Indian government Monday for posing a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.”
The move follows a border clash between India and China earlier this month that left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
Actress Shraddha Arya deleted all her TikTok posts except for one listing her Instagram and Facebook handle.
Some creators even posted videos about how to use Instagram.
Others posted farewell videos with the hashtag #ByeTikTok, saying they agreed with the government’s move and would delete their accounts from the app.
In an interview with India TV, actress Ashnoor Kaur, who has 3.2 million followers on TikTok, celebrated the government’s move saying it presented an opportunity for India to become self-sufficient and use homegrown apps.
“I am really happy with this decision and I’m totally in support of it,” she said, adding, “your country comes first.”
Other celebrities urged the public to show empathy for TikTok creators.
“The fact that Tik-tokers have millions of fans is because people consume that content. You too have silently watched their videos, laughed with some, laughed at many. Forwarded those videos to your friends. These creators too are fellow Indians. … Today you are celebrating the downfall of all those who had build a brand for themselves by sheer hard work, without any GODFATHER. So next time when you ridicule anyone just ask yourself what would you do if you woke up to the news that your business doesn’t exist anymore.”
Tuesday, TikTok responded to the ban, saying it has been invited by the Indian government “to respond and submit clarifications.”
The company denied sharing user information “with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Further if we are requested to in the future we would not do so.”
It remains unclear how the ban will be enforced and how long it could last.
This is not the first time TikTok has run into trouble with the Indian government. The app was briefly blocked in India last year after a court ruled it could expose children to sexual predators, pornography and cyberbullying. The app was reinstated a week later after the company successfully appealed the court’s decision.
TikTok has a lot to lose in the world’s second-most populous country. India has been the biggest driver of new TikTok downloads, generating close to 660 million installs since its launch in 2017, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.
The app has recently exploded in popularity around the world. It was downloaded 315 million times from January through March, according to Sensor Tower — an amount that the analytics company says topped any other app ever for a single quarter. TikTok now has more than 2 billion downloads overall, more than doubling its total from a year ago.
But losing India could have knock-on effects for TikTok’s brand, which is already suffering in the face of increased scrutiny from US lawmakers.

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Teens TikTok

TikTok Teens Claim They Tanked Trump Rally – The New York Times

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump’s campaign promised huge crowds at his rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, but it failed to deliver. Hundreds of teenage TikTok users and K-pop fans say they’re at least partially responsible.

Brad Parscale, the chairman of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, posted on Twitter on Monday that the campaign had fielded more than a million ticket requests, but reporters at the event noted the attendance was lower than expected. The campaign also canceled planned events outside the rally for an anticipated overflow crowd that did not materialize.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said protesters stopped supporters from entering the rally, held at the BOK Center, which has a 19,000-seat capacity.

But reporters present said there were few protests. According to a spokesman for the Tulsa Fire Department on Sunday, the fire marshal counted 6,200 scanned tickets of attendees. (That number would not include staff, media or those in box suites.)

TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music groups claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Mr. Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. After the Trump campaign’s official account @TeamTrump posted a tweet asking supporters to register for free tickets using their phones on June 11, K-pop fan accounts began sharing the information with followers, encouraging them to register for the rally — and then not show.

The trend quickly spread on TikTok, where videos with millions of views instructed viewers to do the same, as CNN reported on Tuesday. “Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally, and I can’t go,” one woman joked, along with a fake cough, in a TikTok posted on June 15.

Thousands of other users posted similar tweets and videos to TikTok that racked up millions of views. Representatives for TikTok did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It spread mostly through Alt TikTok — we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism,” said the YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, who participated in the social media campaign. “K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”

Many users deleted their posts after 24 to 48 hours in order to conceal their plan and keep it from spreading into the mainstream internet. “The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn’t want the Trump campaign to catch wind,” Mr. Daniel said. “These kids are smart and they thought of everything.”

Twitter users on Saturday night were quick to declare the social media campaign’s victory. “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted in response to Mr. Parscale, who had tweeted that “radical protestors” had “interfered” with attendance.

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President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the country’s worst episodes of racial violence in 1921, angered the city’s black residents. In this news analysis, we explain what this moment could mean for Mr. Trump’s re-election bid.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist, added, “The teens of America have struck a savage blow against @realDonaldTrump.”

“Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work,” Mr. Parscale said in a statement on Sunday. “Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVPed with a cellphone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool.”

Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, said she had been watching black TikTok users express their frustration about Mr. Trump’s hosting his rally on Juneteenth, the holiday on June 19. (The rally was later moved to June 20.) She “vented” her own anger in a late-night TikTok video on June 11 — and provided a call to action.

“I recommend all of those of us that want to see this 19,000-seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now, and leave him standing there alone on the stage,” Ms. Laupp said in the video.

When she checked her phone the next morning, Ms. Laupp said, the video was starting to go viral. It has more than 700,000 likes, she added, and more than two million views.

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Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

She said she believed that at least 17,000 tickets were accounted for based on comments she received on her TikTok videos, but added that people reaching out to her said tens of thousands more had been reserved.

Ms. Laupp said she was “overwhelmed” and “stunned” by the possibility that she and the effort she helped inspire might have contributed to the low rally attendance.

“There are teenagers in this country who participated in this little no-show protest, who believe that they can have an impact in their country in the political system even though they’re not old enough to vote right now,” she said.

The effort to deprive Mr. Trump of a large crowd spread from Twitter and TikTok across multiple social media platforms, including Instagram and Snapchat.

Erin Hoffman, an 18-year-old from upstate New York, said she heard from a friend on Instagram about the social media campaign. She then spread it herself via her Snapchat story, and said friends who saw her post told her they were reserving tickets.

“Trump has been actively trying to disenfranchise millions of Americans in so many ways, and to me, this was the protest I was able to perform,” said Ms. Hoffman, who reserved two tickets herself and persuaded one of her parents to nab two more. “He doesn’t deserve the platform he has been given.”

Ms. Laupp said that many of the people who shared her video added commentary encouraging people to procure the tickets with fake names and phone numbers. In the comment section under her own video, TikTok users exchanged advice on how to acquire a Google Voice number or another internet-connected phone line.

“We all know the Trump campaign feeds on data, they are constantly mining these rallies for data,” said Ms. Laupp, who worked on several rallies for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. “Feeding them false data was a bonus. The data they think they have, the data they are collecting from this rally, isn’t accurate.”

Campaign officials on Sunday said that many people who had signed up were not supporters, but online tricksters. One campaign adviser claimed that “troll data” was still usable, claiming it would help the campaign avoid the same pitfall in the future. The adviser said that the data could be put into the system to “tighten up the formula used to determine projected attendance for rallies.”

Ms. Laupp added that several people who took part in her campaign complained that once they signed up for the rally with their real phone numbers, they couldn’t get the Trump campaign to stop texting them and sending them messages.

Mary Garcia, a 19-year-old student from California, said that she used a Google Voice number to sign up for the rally, but that two of her friends who also signed up used their real numbers and had been inundated with texts from the Trump campaign.

Ms. Garcia said she decided to sign up on a whim after seeing Ms. Laupp’s video, but after she saw the Trump campaign boasting about its record-setting ticket numbers she regretted what she had done.

“I feel like it doesn’t even matter if the rally is full or not,” Ms. Garcia said. “They are going to boast about a million tickets being registered, and then they’ll just lie or whatever about how big the audience was.”

K-pop stans have been getting increasingly involved in American politics in recent months. After the Trump campaign solicited messages for the president’s birthday on June 8, K-pop stans submitted a stream of prank messages. And earlier in June, when the Dallas Police Department asked citizens to submit videos of suspicious or illegal activity through a dedicated app, K-pop Twitter claimed credit for crashing the app by uploading thousands of “fancam” videos.

They also reclaimed the #WhiteLivesMatter hashtag in May, by spamming it with endless K-pop videos, in hopes to make it harder for white supremacists and sympathizers to find one another and communicate their messaging.

Whether or not the prank to call in false tickets was the reason for the empty upper rafters at Mr. Trump’s rally, teenagers online celebrated. On Twitter, several accounts tweeted, “best senior prank ever.”


With additional reporting by Annie Karni.

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