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Trump says TikTok is a national security threat, Facebook is 'enemy of the people'

Trump recently reversed his support of a ban on TikTok.
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Rome Ga.
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Rome, Ga., on Saturday.Mike Stewart / AP

Former President Donald Trump said he believes that TikTok is a national security threat but that he couldn't support Congress’ banning the popular app because doing so would boost support for Facebook, which is the "enemy of the people."

Asked Monday morning whether he believes TikTok is a national security threat in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Trump said, “I do believe that.”

“I do believe it, and we have to very much admit we are protecting American people’s privacy and data rights,” he said.

Follow live updates as Congress votes on TikTok-related bill

Trump had initially supported efforts to ban the app in the U.S., but he recently reversed his support. Pressed about why he flipped, Trump said he could have banned TikTok during his presidency but left it up to Congress to do so.

“But as you know, I was at the point where I could have gotten it done if I wanted to. I should have said, you guys decide, you make that decision, because there are a lot of people who talk that love it," he said. "There are a lot of young kids on TikTok who will go crazy without it. There are a lot of users.”

Trump then argued that banning TikTok would lead to the growth of Facebook, which he slammed as an “enemy of the people.”

“There’s a lot of good and there’s a lot of bad with TikTok. But the thing I don’t like is that without TikTok, you can make Facebook bigger, and I consider Facebook to be an enemy of the people along with a lot of the media," he said.

Trump had decried Facebook as an "enemy of the people" in a Truth Social post last week, saying a ban on TikTok would allow Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to "double their business."

Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were suspended the day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol over inflammatory posts about the attack. 

Meta, the social media giant that operates Facebook and Instagram, reinstated his accounts last year after a two-year provisional suspension.

Following his suspension from the social media platforms, Trump launched his Truth Social platform in 2022.

The bipartisan leaders of the House select committee on China, Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., have co-authored a bill that could lead to a ban of the popular app in the U.S. if it does not cut ties with its parent company, China-based ByteDance. President Joe Biden has expressed support for the bill.

The House will vote on the bill this week under suspension of the rules, Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s spokesperson, Lauren Fine, told NBC News. It will need the support of two-thirds of members on the floor to pass.

U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials have expressed concerns that the Chinese government could use TikTok as a tool to obtain data from its users and expose them to content that could influence their views on issues such as the November presidential election. In hours of testimony before Congress last year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew maintained that the app is safe and secure and denied that the Chinese government uses it to access U.S. user data.

Trump has courted controversial conservative influencers such as Libs of TikTok and the conservative political satire website Babylon Bee as part of his re-election campaign, hosting them at events held at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The creator of Libs of TikTok, an account that is popular among far-right figures, Chaya Raichik, has come under fire for her posts that often discriminate against the LGBTQ community.