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TikTok hauled into US election as Trump opposes ban

                            TikTok hauled into US election as Trump opposes ban

TikTok hauled into US election as Trump opposes ban

In a major reversal, former US president Donald Trump on Monday said he was against a ban of TikTok as the fate of the popular video-sharing app was dragged into the US election campaign.

Years of on-and-off attempts of banning the Chinese owned app have resurged in the United States with the introduction of a bill in Congress that could see the app forced to cut ties with its Chinese owner, Bytedance. 

The US House of Representatives could vote this week on the bill with furious lobbying on both sides making it hard to predict the outcome, and the stance of Trump could prove key for Republicans. 

Trump's turnaround came as a surprise since he was a proponent of stripping TikTok away from Bytedance when he was president, before he was stopped by a US court. 

He feared, as many still do, that the site was a national security threat with tens of millions of young people entertained by TikTok algorithms that are potentially subject to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party a charge the company strenuously denies. President Joe Biden has given his support to the bill, while also turning to Tiktok to address younger voters in video clips as part of his outreach to win a second term.

"We don't see this as banning these apps that’s not what this is," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week. "But by ensuring that their ownership isn't in the hands of those who may do us harm, this is about our national security, obviously, and this is what we’re focused on," she added.

The White House, leading the way for many western governments, last year banned the use of TikTok on government-issued smartphones. But the White House had stopped short of pursuing an all-out ban, with worry in Washington that the move would infuriate influencers and the app's 170 million US users, mainly young people who will be key to Biden's re-election.

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