TikTok Threatens to Sue After Trump Signs Executive Order

Video sharing social media platform, TikTok, is threatening legal action. This after Trump signed an executive order potentially banning it in the US.

It’s another day in the presidency of death, destruction, and chaos. This time, it’s yet another war Trump is having with social media.

The TikTok saga is filled with many twists and turns. Some speculate that it started when a bunch of users from the platform bought tickets for US President Donald Trump’s notoriously botched Tulsa rally. Those behind the fake ticket purchases were allegedly organizing on TikTok. When few people showed up, it was a PR disaster for the impeached president. It also was followed up by the famous disheveled president walking away from his plane afterwards. In addition, the few thousand that showed up largely didn’t practice recommended health guidelines and have been blamed for a surge in COVID-19 cases afterwards.

Sometime after that, Trump threatened to ban TikTok. From Global last week:

Reporters accompanying Trump on Air Force One from an event in Florida back to Washington said Trump told them he planned to take action against the popular video-sharing service as soon as Saturday.

“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump said, according to the pool report.

Trump said the ban will come through either an executive order or by using executive economic powers.

He also made clear that he opposed a deal to let a U.S. company buy TikTok’s American operations from its China-based owner ByteDance.

Microsoft, of course, was looking to buy the US operations of TikTok. From the BBC:

Microsoft said it was looking to purchase the TikTok service in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and would operate the app in these markets.

The tech firm added that it “may” invite other American investors to participate in the purchase “on a minority basis”.

Microsoft emphasised that it would ensure that “all private data of TikTok’s American users” was transferred to and remained in the US.

So, we’re seeing the US president muddying the waters of a potential business acquisition with his talk. However, that talk did turn into action after the US president followed through with the threats. He signed an executive order banning TikTok within 45 days. From CNBC:

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders banning U.S. transactions with Chinese tech firms Tencent and ByteDance.

Tencent owns Chinese messaging app WeChat, and ByteDance is the Beijing-based parent company of the widely popular short video-sharing app TikTok.

The ban will take effect in 45 days and may attract retaliation from Beijing.

While the scope of the ban remains unclear, the executive orders said that after 45 days, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross “shall identify the transactions” that will be subjected to the prohibition.

In response to the Executive Order, TikTok threatened to file a lawsuit against the Order. From the BBC:

The company said it was “shocked” by an executive order from the US President outlining the ban.

TikTok said it would “pursue all remedies available” to “ensure the rule of law is not discarded”.

Mr Trump issued a similar order against China’s WeChat in a major escalation in Washington’s stand-off with Beijing.

WeChat’s owner, Tencent, said: “We are reviewing the executive order to get a full understanding.”

Of course, Tencent is a familiar name in the gaming community. Some are worried that potential fallout from this executive order could mean that some games could wind up being banned as well. From the LA Times:

The second order was a curveball. In a tangle of commas, it prohibited “any transaction that is related to WeChat,” a messaging app ubiquitous in China and used by more than a billion people around the world, with Tencent Holdings, WeChat’s parent company, “or any subsidiary of that entity.”

By 7 p.m., the gamers were freaking out.

Trump, tweeted Noah J. Nelson, “basically just declared war on gamers as a whole. I’m sure that will work out nicely for him.”

In addition to WeChat, Tencent either owns or holds stakes in the largest video game companies in America. Los Angeles’ Riot Games, creator of “League of Legends,” is a fully owned subsidiary of Tencent, and the company owns 40% of Epic Games, which makes the wildly popular “Fortnite.” It also holds 5% stakes in gaming giants Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, and ownership or investment stakes in a number of other game studios.

So, things could very well get problematic in the long term should this Executive Order follow through. There are, of course, plenty of legal questions about the legality of the order itself, but this is where things stand now.

This isn’t the first time Trump has declared war on social media. Back in May, Trump signed an Executive Order attempting to kill Section 230. By early June, the Order was responded to by a lawsuit by a group backed by Twitter, Google, and Facebook.

With this latest Executive Order, it seems that things could spiral further out of control in the digital world.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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