Trump targets TikTok again with new executive order
US President Donald Trump late on Friday lashed out anew at ByteDance, issuing a fresh executive order stating the Chinese Internet giant must sell its interest in the Musical.ly app it bought and merged with TikTok.
ByteDance bought karaoke video app Musical.y from a Chinese rival about three years ago in a deal valued at nearly a billion dollars. It was incorporated into TikTok, which became a global sensation.
"As we've said previously, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection," ByteDance said in response to an AFP inquiry.
"We're committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come."
The order set to take effect in 90 days retroactively prohibits the acquisition and bars ByteDance from having any interest in Musical.ly.
Trump ordered that any sale of interest in Musical.ly in the US had to be signed off on by the Committee on Foreign Investment, which is to be given access to ByteDance books.
It also ordered that any saved user data be destroyed.
Trump has also called for the US government to be cut in on the deal, a stance slammed by critics who said it appears unconstitutional and akin to extortion.
Trump last week made good on threats against WeChat and TikTok — two Chinese-owned apps with major audiences.
The move also threw into doubt the US operations of WeChat's parent firm, Tencent, a powerful player in the video game industry and one of the world's richest companies.
China condemned the move as "arbitrary political manipulation."
TikTok — used by as many as a billion people worldwide to make quirky, short-form videos on their cellphones — has repeatedly denied sharing data with China.
WeChat is a messaging, social media and electronic payment platform and is reported to have more than a billion users.