TikTok has delivered a subtle jab to US president Donald Trump as a battle between the Chinese-owned app and the White House approaches an unprecedented deadline.
On Friday, TikTok reportedly posted a video on its official Instagram page of Claudia Conway taking part in a video trend on the platform. She just happens to be the 15-year-old daughter of Kellyanne Conway, the senior counsellor to Mr Trump.
The teen’s TikTok videos are often anti-Trump in content, much to the chagrin of her mother who is one of the few people who have worked side-by-side with the US president during his entire first term.
The unusual post, which no longer appears on the company’s Instagram page, was seen as a subtle shot at the Trump administration which has threatened to ban the popular app in the US unless it can be bought out by an American company.
“Tiktok, which is in the crosshairs of the Trump administration, just posted this TikTok featuring Claudia Conway, the minor child of the Counselor to the president, on their official Instagram page,” wrote US journalist Yashar Ali before the post was removed by the company.
The video featured the teenage TikTok star at the start of a montage of users taking part in the app's #HurtMyFeelings challenge, in which they make a joke about the inability of someone to hurt their feelings.
“You think you can hurt my feelings? lol my mom is Kellyanne Conway,” text over the video reads.
Brian Anderson, who previously worked for Republican governor of Arizona Doug Ducey, labelled the apparent stunt by TikTok “sickening”.
“TikTok just sent a message to the White House to let the world know that the company knows where POTUS Counselor Kellyanne Conway's minor daughter's account can be found,” he wrote on Twitter.
A TikTok spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia the post “hadn't gone through our internal approval process before it was published”.
Trump’s unusual TikTok mandate
Mr Trump issued an executive order last Friday (local time) giving Chinese company ByteDance 90 days to either sell or spin off its TikTok business in the US.
Microsoft, Twitter and more recently software company Oracle are all reportedly interested in acquiring the social media platform, which would see them potentially buy the ownership of TikTok’s operations in North America, Australia and New Zealand.
The highly unusual mandate by the White House has, at least ostensibly, been made on the grounds of national security.
If you didn't think @tiktok_us was a threat to national security before ...
TikTok just sent a message to the @WhiteHouse to let the world know that the company knows where @POTUS Counselor Kellyanne Conway's minor daughter's account can be found.
— Brian Anderson (@AZBrianAnderson) August 20, 2020
The app vacuums up huge amounts of data on its users and threat of a ban comes amid concerns for the private information of US consumers being misused by the Chinese Communist Party.
If no deal is done, the app could be banned in the US – a threat which has sparked concerns over a similar ban in Australia.
ByteDance’s acceptance of any such deal, and the actual likelihood of one eventuating, remains relatively unclear.
New company enters the race for TikTok
US software giant Oracle is the latest to join the race to get a piece of the video sharing app which is hugely popular among teens and young adults.
The move would represent a strategic departure for Oracle, which caters mostly to corporate customers and generates the bulk of its sales from cloud offerings and software licensing.
Its co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison is one of the few top technology executives to openly support President Donald Trump.
Oracle is working with some of ByteDance’s investors, including General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, on making an offer for the TikTok assets that would challenge a rival bid from Microsoft, sources told Reuters.
Mr Trump has said he would support an effort by Microsoft to buy TikTok’s American operations if the US government got a “substantial portion” of the proceeds, but he has also said there are other interested potential buyers.
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