“We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” the company wrote in a statement early Friday morning. “For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. 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.”
Trump’s order, issued on Thursday night, bars anyone “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” from carrying out transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company. The order says TikTok “automatically” captures “vast swathes of information from its users,” and could be used by China’s authoritarian government to influence Americans and compromise their privacy.
The order also says TikTok “reportedly censors” content about the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims, as well as “sensitive” videos showing protests. “[TikTok] may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, such as when TikTok videos spread debunked conspiracy theories about the origins of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” the order says.
TikTok disputed these claims in its statement, saying that they rely on “unnamed ‘reports’ with no citations” or “substantiation.” The company also said that it does not share data with the Chinese government.
“This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth,” TikTok said. “And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.”
TikTok has been under global scrutiny for its links to China. Last week, Trump said the United States would ban the app citing national security concerns around ByteDance.
Since then, the president has changed his mind and said TikTok would be allowed to function in the US as long as an American company bought its operations in the country, and as long as the United States received a “substantial portion” of the sale price.
Earlier this week, tech giant Microsoft confirmed in a blog post that it was in talks to buy TikTok and would close negotiations by Sept. 15.