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TikTok Ban Would Help ‘Enemy of the People’ Facebook: Trump

Former US president looks to have softened his position on TikTok, saying a bill to force the Chinese tech giant to divest its US operations would boost Facebook, which he also dislikes

Donald Trump appears to have changed his position on TikTok (Reuters file image from 2020).


Former US president Donald Trump appears to have done an about-face on TikTok, saying a move by the US Congress to ban the popular Chinese app, would benefit Facebook – which he described as “an enemy of the people”.

Trump, who tried to block Chinese control of TikTok when he held office in 2020, said “there’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad” with the short-video app, but banning it could help Facebook, and its parent company Meta, double its business.

“Without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people,” he told CNBC.


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“There are a lot of people on TikTok that love it. There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it,” Trump said.

“I think Facebook has been very bad for our country, especially when it comes to elections,” he added.

Facebook parent Meta Platforms revoked Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram after removing two of his posts during the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. His accounts were reinstated in February 2023.

The Trump administration tried to have TikTok removed from app stores in the US due to security concerns but was stymied by legal battles. He later ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok within 90 days, but that effort also failed.

Shares in Meta fell sharply by more than 4.4% after Trump’s latest remarks, on a day when stocks were largely flat.

The new position adopted by Trump, who is leading the race to be the Republican nominee in the US election in November, contrasts with President Joe Biden.

Biden said on Friday that if US lawmakers pass a bill that forces TikTok parent ByteDance to sell the short-video app’s US operations, he would sign it.

US intelligence agencies and lawmakers regard TikTok as a cybersecurity risk (with data on 170 million Americans) and a platform used by Beijing as a propaganda arm to undermine US society, democracy – as well as a threat to free and fair elections.


‘Separating app from the CCP’

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned in its annual threat assessment on Monday: “TikTok accounts run by a [Chinese] propaganda arm reportedly targeted candidates from both political parties during the US midterm election cycle in 2022.

It said China’s government may “attempt to influence the US elections in 2024 at some level because of its desire to sideline critics of China and magnify US societal divisions.”

US Congressmen from both parties (Republican) Mike Gallagher and (Democrat) Raja Krishnamoorthi — who introduced the latest bill last week — say the move is not a ban, but rather, a push to separate the app used by half the people in the US from the Chinese Communist Party.

“Think of this as a surgery designed to remove the tumour and thereby save the patient in the process,” Gallagher said.

The US Justice Department also voiced support for the bill saying forcing ByteDance to divest TikTok would put the Biden Administration in a stronger legal position than if the app was simply banned.

The American Civil Liberties Union said last week that a ban on TikTok would be unconstitutional and a violation of First Amendment rights.

But the US Justice Department has a different view. It gave a classified briefing to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday before the panel voted 50-0 in favour of the divestment bill.

The briefing included the one-page unclassified document seen by Reuters, which said TikTok poses “key national security concerns” because it “collects tremendous amounts of sensitive data.” TikTok’s Chinese ownership puts its “American users at risk,” the DoJ added.

The document, titled “Threat Posed by TikTok,” said any bill needs to separate the company from Beijing and its Chinese-based parent and that a divestment has key advantages over a ban.


  • Jim Pollard with Reuters




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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