TikTok says rivals taking advantage of Trump’s ban threat

TikTok claims that competitors are trying to capitalize on the Trump administration’s efforts to ban the popular video-sharing app in the US.

The Chinese-owned platform made the allegation in a court filing asking a federal judge to block US Commerce Department rules that would effectively shut down the app next month if it’s not taken over by American investors.

“There would be permanent, devastating harm to TikTok’s user base and competitive position, even if the government ban were to be lifted after a period of weeks or months,” TikTok said in the Wednesday filing. “Competitors have already taken advantage of the government’s highly-publicized intention to shut down the app to entice TikTok creators and users to switch platforms.”

Shuttering the app on Nov. 12 as currently scheduled would also “destroy” TikTok’s relationships with advertisers and cause a “massive decrease” in the amount of content available on the platform globally, which would hurt its ability to attract and retain users, the company argues.

TikTok didn’t name the competitors that are allegedly going after its users. But Instagram reportedly tried to poach TikTok influencers for its copycat platform, Reels, before it launched in early August. Triller, a much smaller short-video platform, has also publicly criticized TikTok in recent weeks while trying to build its own user base.

TikTok’s bid to stave off a shutdown came as its parent company, ByteDance, tried to finalize a deal to spin off the app’s American operations. The Beijing-based tech giant rushed to make the deal after President Trump threatened to ban TikTok over concerns that its user data could be shared with the Chinese government, allegations the app has denied.

The proposal would set up a new US-based company called TikTok Global that would be partially owned by American investors including software firm Oracle and retail chain Walmart, who would have a combined 20 percent stake.

A federal judge blocked the feds from banning new downloads of TikTok last month, but he did not rule on the broader restrictions that would essentially halt the app’s operations on Nov. 12. The Trump administration moved to appeal the judge’s Sept. 27 ruling last week.