President Donald Trump said he has the authority to ban TikTok from the US while talking to reporters on Air Force One during the flight back to Washington.
Trump stressed that he will act as soon as Saturday to ban TikTok from the US, according to NBC News.
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” the president said, labeling the action as “severance.”
He did not mention whether he will implement it through an executive order, or another process, such as a designation, the NBC News states.
“Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said.
Trump’s statements came as it was revealed on Friday that Microsoft has had talks about purchasing the TikTok video-sharing mobile app from Chinese owner ByteDance, a source familiar with the situation told CNBC. The source described the talks as have been going on for a while now.
According to NBC News, Trump told reporters that he does support the spinoff deal about Microsoft acquiring TikTok.
A TikTok acquisition could redirect Microsoft, a major provider of business software, to consumer technology, which Microsoft has avoided in recent years by leaving the smartphone hardware, e-book markets, and fitness hardware.
Amy Hood, Microsoft’s chief financial officer, said in 2018 that the company had been constantly acquiring “networked assets” with many users, like LinkedIn.
Chinese company ByteDance introduced TikTok in 2017. The app became more popular during the coronavirus pandemic, achieving 2 billion downloads in April, based on Sensor Tower’s data. Its competitors include Facebook and Snap.
ByteDance investors aiming to take over TikTok have priced it at $50 billion, according to Reuters.
Microsoft did not give any comment on the talks, which were first revealed by Fox Business Network.
“While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok,” TikTok said in a statement Friday.
Trump’s remarks also came after TikTok announced that it is hiring 10,000 people in the US for the next three years. Its biggest offices in the country are in New York and California.
With over 1,400 employees in the US, Tiktok has recruited dozens of staff from Facebook and Google, including high-profile executives. Worldwide, TikTok has 172 ex-Googlers and 165 ex-Facebookers, based on an analysis on LinkedIn.
Dissecting the US numbers, TikTok currently has 79 employees who used to work at Google and 79 who were previously with Facebook. Some of them resigned from Google and Facebook years ago but most of them have recently left the Silicon Valley companies to join TikTok.
While TikTok is hiring in the US, the company is reportedly planning to move its headquarters to UK.
A source familiar with TikTok and wanted to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the issue said that the Chinese-owned social media app has yet to decide where to build its international headquarters. According to TikTok, ByteDance was considering some factors that are not related to the political retaliation against Huawei.
“The U.K. is one of our most important markets globally, with a talented and diverse team in London, including senior leadership,” said a ByteDance representative.