WORLD TikTok lovers rage against Trump threat of US ban

WORLD

TikTok lovers rage against Trump threat of US ban

AFP

14:10, August 04, 2020

A TikTok star pounds a beat as she weaves lyrics mocking the idea of US President Donald Trump banning the short-form video sharing app.

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In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background on August 3, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: AFP)

The "Trump Freestyle" post Monday by @maya2960 quickly racked up more than a million views and 500,000 "likes" on the popular platform owned by China-based ByteDance.

"Didn't think this through, little Donny, did you? Not much of a businessman," she rapped.

"You can ban this app, there'll be a new one. There's supply where there's demand."

The lyrics included a promise that TikTok users would not go down without a fight, citing First Amendment protections against government censorship of free speech.

Another video snippet racking up views was captioned "Me trying to convince Trump to let us keep TikTok" and showed a woman coloring her face orange and building a brick wall.

American comedian Elijah Daniels used Twitter to bid farewell to his TikTok followers, giving "a big shout out to Donald Trump for mishandling the entire pandemic" but then taking away an app raising people's spirits.

Twenty TikTok stars, whose combined followings top 100 million people, posted an open letter to Trump on Medium arguing against banning the app.

"A virtual world dominated by hate on Twitter is nothing compared to the snapshots of joy and comedy on TikTok," read the open letter.

Trump wants a cut

Trump gave TikTok six weeks to sell its US operations to an American company, saying Monday it would be "out of business" otherwise, and that the government wanted a financial benefit from the deal.

"It's got to be an American company... it's got to be owned here," Trump said. 

Trump said that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, which has as many as one billion worldwide users who make quirky 60-second videos with its smartphone app.

Trump gave ByteDance until mid-September to strike a deal.

Whatever the price is, he said, "the United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we're making it possible."

Trump compared the demand for a piece of the pie to a landlord demanding under-the-table "key money" from a new tenant, a practice widely illegal including in New York, where the billionaire president built his real estate empire.

Trump also said the sale of TikTok's US business would have to result in a significant payout to the US Treasury for initiating it.

Flop rally payback?

Some on TikTok suspect that the president's threat is connected to the platform's popularity among activists, such as those protesting racial discrimination.

Legions of K-pop fans and TikTok users took credit for upending a Trump rally in June by block-reserving tickets with no intention of attending the event -- which wound up with an embarrassingly low turnout.

Prior to the event in Tulsa, Oklahoma -- hyped as a major relaunch ahead of the November presidential election -- Trump's campaign chairman tweeted that more than a million tickets had been requested.

But according to the local fire department, just 6,200 people turned up.

"Now I don't think it's a coincidence after Tulsa was a flop; out of the blue, now suddenly you, want to go ahead and ban TikTok," @maya2960 rapped.

TikTok appeals to a generation that spent their childhoods on the internet, seeing it evolve from a cornucopia of online platforms to a virtual world dominated by titans such as Facebook and Google, according to the open letter.

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