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Top U.S. TikTok exec says it's 'here for the long run' despite Trump ban

Vanessa Pappas, the general manager for TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, also pushed back on claims that the app is a security threat.
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TikTok has no plans to pull out of the United States even if it is not sold to a U.S. company, a top executive said Tuesday.

Vanessa Pappas, the general manager for TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, also pushed back on claims that the app is a security threat.

"TikTok is here for the long run," she said in an interview that aired on NBC's "TODAY" show. "We are more than confident in our future."

Pappas' statements come as TikTok's situation in the U.S. remains uncertain.

Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned the company from doing business in the U.S. as of Sept. 15. TikTok's owner, ByteDance, which is based in Beijing, has reportedly been in talks to sell some or all of the app to a variety of possible buyers including Microsoft. Oracle is also reportedly part of the bidding.

Pappas said that TikTok will continue to exist and will provide the same experience for users well after that deadline.

The app, which allows users to create and view short videos set to music, has captured the hearts and minds of Generation Z. It has more than 100 million users in the U.S., and a third of them are reportedly under the age of 13.

Trump and many lawmakers have argued that TikTok poses a threat to national security, primarily because they believe the Chinese Communist Party might use the service to access Americans' data. Those fears come amid mounting tensions with China that could spark a new Cold War, in which technology will play a pivotal role.

Pappas denied that TikTok poses a threat to the U.S.

"We're not a national security threat," she said. "We have very strict data controls in place. We have an amazing team building a world-class infrastructure, and that's something that we put front and center in terms of protecting our users."

Pappas also said TikTok had become a victim of the "geopolitical tension" between Washington and Beijing, and cited a recent CIA report that found no evidence that Chinese intelligence had accessed TikTok users' data.

Nevertheless, those tensions have forced ByteDance into a position where it will likely be forced to sell TikTok's U.S. business to a non-Chinese owner.

"We definitely are committed to providing the exact same experience to our users today, in whatever scenario unfolds in the future," Pappas said.

American ownership or not, TikTok will face increased competition in the U.S. In recent weeks, Facebook has launched its own TikTok-like service, Instagram Reels; Snapchat has introduced new TikTok-like music features; and Google's YouTube is at work on a 15-second video tool.

When asked if she was worried that TikTok users might decamp to a service like Instagram, Pappas dismissed the competition.

"You can certainly copy a feature, but you can't copy a community," she said. "And I think what's really unique about TikTok is this amazing community that has found a home on the platform."