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Ban Could Cut TikTok Off From App Stores And Ads

Donald Trump is coming after the social media giant, TikTok. Reuters has seen a White House document that says that Trump’s executive ban could prevent U.S. app stores from listing the social media platform and make advertising on the app illegal. 

The president signed an executive order last week prohibiting transactions with TikTok if its parent company ByteDance does not reach a deal to sell its U.S. operations in 45 days. He did not state full scope of the ban, but he did say that the Department of Commerce would define which transactions would be barred at the 45-day mark. 

The document states, “Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores … purchasing advertising on TikTok, and accepting terms of service to download the TikTok app onto a user device.” TikTok did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment after their report. 

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While the app boasts around 800 million users, 100 million of which are in the U.S., being taken off app stores could be disastrous for the social media giant. A ban on ad campaigns would pose another huge blow. Trump also mentioned banning WeChat, a social media app owned by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. 

Outside of Trump’s looming ban, TikTok also drew fire from Google over collecting Android user identifiers. The Wall Street Journal reported that the app collected MAC addresses from Android users for over a year. The practice ended with an update in November of 2019, but the process is against Google and Apple policy. Both stores have banned the collection of addresses for years. TikTok was among 347 companies that found loopholes to harvest this data behind the back of the Google Play Store. 

TikTok has promised that it would never turn over user data to the Chinese government and that they collect less data than many other social media brands. However, that has not stopped Trump from threats against the company. Twitter and Microsoft, among others, have expressed interest in acquiring TikTok’s U.S. operations, but ByteDance’s CEO, Zhang Yiminghas has threatened legal action against Trump to save the brand.

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