TikTok ramps up defense against US accusations
The logo of Chinese video app TikTok is seen on the side of the company's new office space at the C3 campus on August 11, 2020 in Culver City, in the westside of Los Angeles.
AFP/Chris Delmas
TikTok ramps up defense against US accusations
(Agence France-Presse) - August 18, 2020 - 8:13am

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — TikTok on Monday stepped up its defense against US accusations that the popular video app is a national security threat, denouncing what it called "rumors and misinformation" about its links to the Chinese government.

The video-snippet sharing service launched an online information hub as its Chinese parent firm faced a deadline set by President Donald Trump to divest TikTok before the app is banned in the United States.

On a web page titled "The Last Sunny Corner of the Internet," TikTok maintained it was setting the record straight about the platform.

"TikTok has never provided any US user data to the Chinese government, nor would it do so if asked," the company said in the post.

"Any insinuation to the contrary is unfounded and blatantly false."

US user data is stored here, with a backup in Singapore, according to TikTok.

The company, owned by China-based ByteDance, also launched a new @tiktok_comms Twitter account to address issues in real time.

As tensions soar between the world's two biggest economies, Trump has claimed TikTok could be used by China to track the locations of federal employees, build dossiers on people for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.

The US leader early this month also ordered a ban on the messaging app WeChat which is used extensively in China.

On Friday, Trump signed a separate executive order for  ByteDance to sell its interest in Musical.ly, the app it bought and merged with TikTok in 2017, citing national security.

TikTok said the US action "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth."

TikTok also repeated its intention to "pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded."

China meanwhile Monday slammed Washington for using "digital gunboat diplomacy" in the TikTok case.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday said TikTok had done everything required by the US, including hiring Americans as its top executives, hosting its servers in the US and making public its source code. 

But the app has been "unable to escape the robbery through trickery undertaken by some people in the US based on bandit logic and political self-interest," Zhao said at a regular press conference.

TikTok separately Monday announced an alliance with music distribution platform UnitedMasters, playing to budding artists and their fans despite US steps to bar the popular app.

The deal to integrate UnitedMasters into TikTok promised to build on a trend of the platform being way for musicians to be discovered by posting short-clip videos.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

DONALD TRUMP TIKTOK UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 18, 2020 - 12:00pm

The latest news about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.

September 18, 2020 - 12:00pm

Negotiators scramble to find a new ownership structure for the popular video app TikTok that would pass muster in both the United States and China.

A deal appeared to be taking shape this week that would allow Silicon Valley-based Oracle to be the US technology partner for TikTok to allay Washington's concerns that the platform could be used for Chinese espionage.

But details of the deal remained unclear. Some reports said Oracle would be a minority stakeholder in TikTok, with the Chinese parent firm ByteDance keeping a majority. — AFP

September 18, 2020 - 8:58am

Twitter says it is tightening security of high-profile politicians, campaigns and journalists as a "critical preventative step" ahead of the US presidential election.

Twitter will be implementing more sophisticated systems to detect suspicious activity and ramp up defenses intended to thwart hackers from taking over accounts, according to the social media platform popular with US President Donald Trump.

"Implementing these security measures is a critical preventative step," the tech firm's safety team says in a blog post. — AFP

September 15, 2020 - 11:23am

US officials are to consider a bid by tech giant Oracle to become an American partner to the Chinese-owned TikTok video app after it was designated a national security risk.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirms the offer concerning TikTok's US operations after its parent company ByteDance rejected a proposal from Microsoft. — AFP

September 14, 2020 - 7:48am

American tech giant Microsoft says its offer to buy TikTok was rejeced, as a deadline looms for the Chinese-owned video app to sell or shut down its US operations.

"ByteDance let us know today they would not be selling TikTok's US operations to Microsoft," it says in a statement.

"We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok's users, while protecting national security interests," the statement adds. — AFP

September 1, 2020 - 10:38am

Facebook threatens to block users and media organizations in Australia from sharing news stories if a government plan to force digital giants to pay for content goes ahead.

Australians would be stopped from posting both local and international news stories on Facebook and Instagram, the company says, claiming the move was "not our first choice" but the "only way to protect against an outcome that defies logic".

In one of the most aggressive moves by any government to curb the power of the US digital giants, the Australian government has drawn up legislation to force Facebook and Google to pay struggling local news organisations for content or face millions of dollars in fines. — AFP

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