Washington, 27 August 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Kevin Mayer, the chief executive of the popular social media app TikTok, resigned his post late Wednesday, amid pressure from the Trump administration and accusations that the video platform is a threat to US national security.
The app has become a key point in brewing tensions between the US and China, with the Trump administration pushing for the US wing of the business to be sold to a local company. Microsoft is in talks to buy the app’s US branch.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a firm based in China.
“We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
The app, one of the most popular social media platforms in the country, allows users to create short videos – often with some basic effects and music.
The US military has already banned its use. India has also banned the app, amid a separate row with Beijing.
Mayer, a former executive at Disney, joined TikTok just before it found itself in middle of the storm between the world’s two largest economies.
Mayer, a US citizen, was a key part of TikTok‘s counterargument that the company is locally based and not a tool for user data harvesting in service of the Chinese government.
“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information,” Trump had said in an executive order this month, deeming TikTok a “threat.”
Trump is pushing for ByteDance to sell the app by mid-September, and effectively complete the handover and shut down any non-US role by November.
The app is part of a wider trade war between the US and China which has increasingly spread to other areas of their relationship, notably over policy towards Hong Kong. The US has also ramped up sanctions on China over maritime issues in the South China Sea.