Mar 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump says TikTok is a national security threat, but slams Facebook again

Former President Trump said Monday that he believes TikTok poses a national security threat to the U.S., but reiterated concerns that banning the app would benefit competitors like Facebook.

Why it matters: Trump, the GOP presidential frontrunner, wields significant influence over the party's lawmakers on Capitol Hill, giving him the power to potentially kill a new bill targeting the wildly popular app in the Republican-controlled House.

Driving the news: Asked during an interview on CNBC's "Squak Box" Monday if he believes TikTok is a national security threat, Trump replied, "I do believe that."

  • Trump implied he is in favor of regulating the platform, saying: "We have to very much go into privacy and make sure that we are protecting the American people's privacy and data rights."
  • However, Trump stressed that these concerns are not unique to the Chinese-owned TikTok, citing Facebook and other American platforms.
  • "They get plenty of information and they deal with China, and they'll do whatever China wants," he said.

The big picture: Top U.S. officials, including FBI Director Chris Wray, have repeatedly warned that the Chinese government could exploit TikTok to launch influence campaigns and access sensitive data on American users.

  • Trump, as president, spearheaded the initial effort to ban TikTok. Yet he appeared to reverse course last week by arguing that banning TikTok would "double" Facebook's business.
  • Trump echoed these remarks during his appearance on "Squawk Box," saying that Facebook and others would be a "big beneficiary" of a TikTok ban.
  • "I think Facebook has been very bad for our country, especially when it comes to elections," he added.

Zoom out: The new House bill would force TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance to divest its ownership of the app within 165 days or see TikTok banned from app stores.

Go deeper: Furious Congress plows forward with TikTok bill after user revolt

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