Sell the company or face a potential U.S. ban?
That’s the decision TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, may have to make.
TikTok may soon be put up for sale in the United States due to a possible order from President Donald Trump, according to a report from that cites “people familiar with the matter.” The order would force ByteDance to divest from its popular viral video app.
When asked about making a decision on TikTok on Friday, Trump told the White House press pool a ban was on the table.
“We’re looking at Tiktok. We may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There are a couple of options, but a lot of things are happening. So, we’ll see what happens, but we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to Tiktok,” said Trump.
Fox Business Network Senior Correspondent Charles Gasparino is also that sources claim Microsoft is interested in acquiring TikTok.
Keep in mind, Bloomberg and Fox Business offered only unnamed sources, so take all these possibilities with a grain of salt.
If the order did come to pass, it would be reminiscent of to the LGBTQ dating app, Grindr, last year. As points out, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States forced the app’s Chinese owners, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd., to sever ties with Grindr. The agency reviews foreign investments in U.S. companies. Its recent focus appears to be on how foreign governments can access U.S. users’ data.
The Trump administration has focused on potential privacy issues with TikTok in recent weeks. The President’s 2020 reelection campaign has even run social media ads Generation Z’s favorite social media app over claims of on users’ mobile clipboard. (TikTok users trolled Trump hard, registering for a Tulsa rally in June so it looked like attendance would be high. Attendance at the rally was much, much lower than expected.)
In early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on and explicitly stated that the administration was looking into banning TikTok from the U.S. over its ties to China. In May, TikTok named Kevin Mayer, the former head of Disney streaming as TikTok’s CEO. As many news outlets have noted, hiring an American CEO could’ve been a strategy to curry favor with U.S. politicians.
Back in 2018, ByteDance brought TikTok, the global version of its popular Chinese app Douyin, to market. It entered the U.S. by rebranding Musical.ly, a similar U.S. based app it for $1 billion in 2017.
Earlier this year, TikTok broke mobile and became one of the most popular global smartphone apps of all time.