The head of TikTok resigned Wednesday as tensions mount between the Chinese-owned video platform and the White House, which contends TikTok is a security risk in the U.S.
Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mayer announced his resignation days after the company filed a lawsuit challenging a U.S. government crackdown on the company over claims the social media app can be a tool to spy on U.S. citizens.
Mayer, a former Disney executive who joined the company in May, said in letter to employees his decision to quit came after the “political environment has sharply changed” in recent weeks.
“I understand that the role that I signed up for, including running TikTok globally, will look very different as a result of the U.S. administration’s action to push for a sell-off of the U.S. business.”
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on August 6 banning TikTok unless its parent company, ByteDance, sells its U.S. operations to an American company within 90 days.
Computer software firm Microsoft, headquartered in the northwestern U.S. city of Redmond, Washington, has confirmed it is negotiating to purchase TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Bloomberg News has reported that technology business Oracle Corp., based in the western U.S. city of Redwood City, California, is also entertaining a bid for the company.
TikTok argues in its lawsuit that Trump’s executive order was an abuse of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act because it is not “an unusual and extraordinary threat.”
The company provides a platform on which short videos are shared. Since its launch in 2017, TikTok has become very popular, with hundreds of millions of users worldwide, many of them teens.
U.S. officials are concerned that TikTok may pose a security threat, fearing that the company might share its user data with China’s government. However, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has said it does not share user data with the Chinese government and maintains that it only stores U.S. user data in the U.S. and Singapore.