The justification for the ban given by the White House was a “national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain.” The administration is also concerned that TikTok “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories.”
We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.
However, TikTok countered that its attempts to address those concerns were stymied by the government. “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,” it wrote. The latter part likely refers to Trump’s comments about Microsoft’s potential purchase of TikTok and that a chunk of the proceeds should go to the US treasury.
TikTok gave what could be a preview of its legal case, saying that the order relies on unnamed “reports” with no specific citations. It also noted that the administration said the app “may be” used for misinformation with no proof to back that up.
The company restated that “TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request.” It added that it’s one of the few social media companies to make its moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available to the public, and noted that it even offered to sell its US business to an American company.
TikTok’s response was widely expected, as is a possible protracted court fight. The White House has also threatened to ban the Chinese app WeChat, which is run by TenCent. However, it said that it wouldn’t take action against other Tencent properties, most notably gaming companies and games like the popular battle royale title PUBG.