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Microsoft Pauses Talks to Buy TikTok After Trump Suggests Total US Ban (Report)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Microsoft has paused its negotiations to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations after President Donald Trump said he opposed the deal and threatened to ban the social media platform from operating inside the United States, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After Trump’s remarks, TikTok tried to make additional concessions, which included adding as many as 10,000 jobs in the United States over the next three years. The founder of TikTok parent company Bytedance, Zhang Yiming, agreed to sell his stake as part of any deal. Reuters reported on Saturday that Bytedance offered to divest its U.S. operations of TikTok completely in hopes of saving the business from being banned by Trump.

Microsoft has emerged as a potential TikTok buyer, with Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino reporting Friday the tech giant was “in talks” to buy the app. However, Trump told reporters late Friday that he did not support such a sale. It was not clear if Trump objected specifically to Microsoft’s involvement or just to any such deal. At the same time, Trump was preparing to sign an order demanding Bytedance divest its ownership of the wildly popular app.

In response to both the Reuters and the Washington Post report, a spokesperson for TikTok said in a statement to TheWrap:

While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok. Hundreds of millions of people come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, including our community of creators and artists who are building livelihoods from the platform. We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.

These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.

A spokesperson for Microsoft has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Trump’s decision comes after TikTok has been scrutinized by both U.S. lawmakers and regulators, who have questioned whether the app poses a national security threat due to its data collection practices and close ties to the Chinese government.

Critics contend that the app doubles as a data collection tool for China’s authoritarian government. TikTok denies sharing user data with Chinese authorities, but Stratechery’s Ben Thompson recently pointed out TikTok’s privacy policy explicitly says it “may share” user information “with a parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of our corporate group,” which, based on how companies operate in China, includes the government.

Earlier this week, Trump said he was “looking at” taking action against TikTok; it was unclear at the time if he meant banning TikTok outright. On Tuesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden also prohibited his staffers from using TikTok on both their personal and work devices.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Triller Sues Rival TikTok for Patent Infringement (Exclusive)

Trump Says He’s ‘Looking at’ TikTok Ban in the US

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Rips Facebook for Attacks ‘Disguised as Patriotism’

Source: the wrap feed

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