Trump, who tried kicking TikTok out of the US, says boo to latest ban effort

Florida man would rather have app stay so as not to give gift to 'true enemy of the people' ... Zuckerberg

Comment If you had to guess, who would you say former US President Donald Trump hates more: China or Mark Zuckerberg? 

We now have our answer.

Despite Trump previously calling TikTok a national security threat and signing an executive order in 2020 to kick it out of the United States, he's now saying he'd rather have it stay than give the gift of its banning to Zuckerberg, one of his countless archnemeses. 

"If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business," Trump said in a post to Truth Social, his personal Twitter alternative. "I don't want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better. They are a true Enemy of the People!"

Trump's post signaled his entry into the debate surrounding a Congressional bill introduced Tuesday that would ban TikTok from operating in the US in six months unless Chinese parent ByteDance sold it - a nearly identical proposal to Trump's failed plan. 

In response to that proposed law, TikTok pushed a notification to its US users, warning them of the looming blockade, and urging them to contact their representatives in Congress. Lawmakers were reportedly flooded with irritated TikTok fans demanding the bill be thrown in the bin.

Trump and TikTok: A brief history lesson

Yes, Zuck's platforms are problematic, but is he and Facebook really so serious of an issue that Donald Trump, paragon of truth who has never wavered from a position, would side with Chy-na and TikTok, which he spent years fighting while President? 

Apparently so. 

For those who don't recall, or who have managed to block out the memories, Trump's four years as president were marked by plenty of sound and fury directed at TikTok, all of which ultimately came to little. We guess it was a win for Oracle, as the IT giant eventually became TikTok's American cloud host to help alleviate fears of Beijing tapping into TikTok's user data. The idea being that if American users' account info stayed in America on American servers, the Chinese government wouldn't be able to view or meddle with it.

After signing his executive order in August, 2020, Trump pushed for Oracle to outright buy TikTok from ByteDance, which had 45 days under the order to find a US-based buyer or close up shop.

TikTok, which would have been outlawed in the US from October that year, appealed Trump's ban, calling it - surprise - "fake news" based on faulty information about TikTok's backend. For one thing, the app maker said Trump was incorrect that TikTok shared code with its Chinese counterpart Douyin, also made by ByteDance, saying the products were deployed separately and that no data was transferred to China.

This, of course, later turned out to be a little bit of fake news itself, with TikTok admitting in 2022 that though "100 percent of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure," it was still trying to minimize the amount of data sent from US users to a datacenter in Singapore, and copping to the fact that some Chinese staff were able to access said information.

Regardless, two US judges later decided the Trump administration overstepped its legal authority by ordering the Department of Commerce to ban TikTok. President Biden later killed the effort entirely by revoking the orders to ban TikTok and WeChat, another Chinese app that had drawn Trump's ire. 

Ban threat's back, all right?

That was then, when Trump wanted to get rid of TikTok, and this is now, when his hate for "Zuckerschmuck" has combined with his claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen to create this unholy alliance. 

There has been no proof presented that the 2020 election was actually stolen - even Trump's own people have said that's not the case.

Regardless, US officials have continued to assert that TikTok is a threat, and we can see why one would agree with them. That said, TikTok is reportedly no greater a privacy and security threat than Facebook is, but Facebook is a privacy threat of our making, while TikTok is of China's. That's a problem, to be sure. 

The main headache is that China is a rather authoritarian nation with a government that can demand data and pretty much anything else from Chinese organizations as well as its people. If millions of Americans, which includes a lot of teenagers, are pouring their details and life experiences into an app that Beijing potentially can get its hands on – an app that also decides through algorithms what to show people – that might not be so good for the United States.

For what it's worth, TikTok has said it would never give people's data to the Chinese government nor has it. And Beijing says it would never dream of such a thing. And we all know about the NSA's surveillance of the internet, and data brokers trading people's personal info all the time anyway, and all that.

This latest TikTok ban bill introduced in Congress earlier this week has sailed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which voted unanimously to advance it to a House floor vote in an uncharacteristic show of bipartisanship. 

In another great show of inconsistency, the Biden administration reportedly supports the bill, suggesting President Biden would sign it if it ends up on his desk. 

Like Trump's attempted ban, the bill gives TikTok limited time - six months, in this case - to find a buyer or pack its bags. We'll soon see whether Trump has enough sway with the Republican party to make Representatives toe the Zuck-trumps-China line - the bill is scheduled for a full vote next week. Whether it survives the inevitable court challenges remains to be seen. ®

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