In its first public statements about President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban TikTok, the Chinese company said it is “shocked” the edict was issued without due process.
“We have sought to engage with the U.S. government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed,” TikTok said in a statement. “What we encountered instead was that the administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”
The iOS and Android app has soared in popularity as a way for teens to create and share short lip-synching and dancing videos. With 800 million users, TikTok is the world’s seventh most popular application, according to DataReportal. More than 300 million users reportedly downloaded it in the first quarter.
Launched under the name Douyin in 2016, the following year the app was rebranded by ByteDance, its parent company, for markets outside of China.
Last month, Trump vowed to ban the social video giant in the U.S. He alleges the app could be used to send American users’ data to the communist Chinese government. U.S. officials have also said they worry that TikTok could distribute propaganda and censor communications.
TikTok denied the allegations.
“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request,” the Aug. 7 statement said. “In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to.”
TikTok added that it has been willing to sell the U.S. portion of its business to an American company.
Trump has said a sale to an American company would allay his concerns.
Behind the scenes, Microsoft Corp. has been seeking a blockbuster deal to buy the popular Chinese video-sharing app’s entire operation, not just the American division.
The Financial Times reported Microsoft’s appetite for TikTok has grown and sources at the tech company told the newspaper it is concerned about the difficulty of dividing administrative services and that buying just a part of TikTok’s global operations would mean customers might not be able to use the app when traveling to other countries.
“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than Sept. 15, 2020,” Microsoft said in a statement issued last weekend. “During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States government, including with the president.”