TIKTOK: Bytedance offers to sell US operations, as Trump ban looms

The Chinese company behind TikTok offered the White House a last-minute deal to prevent a US ban of the app, after President Trump announced plans to block it late Friday night. The social network, controlled by a company called ByteDance, is enormously popular in the United States with more than 80 million daily active users. But there have been growing fears the company could become a front for Chinese spying efforts. Under the terms of the new offer, ByteDance said it would completely divest itself from the US operations of the app, Reuters reported Saturday.

The offer is a concession for the company, which had previously hoped to keep a minority stake in local TikTok operations. Under the new deal, the company would exit completely and turn over 100 percent control of the app’s US wing to Microsoft. The deal might also allow for some US ByteDance investors to retain minority stakes of the new business, though it remained unclear. 

White House has been cool to the idea, with President Trump telling reporters on Air Force One late Friday that he was intent on banning the service and was in no mood to negotiate on the issue. “Not the deal that you have been hearing about, that they are going to buy and sell. … We are not an M&A [mergers and acquisitions] country,” Trump said. “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.” While U.S.-based tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google have raised alarm over their data collection and privacy concerns, TikTok has been under particular scrutiny as a result of its Chinese ownership. Many in the Trump administration as well as independent experts are concerned the company cannot reliably protect US user data from the country’s Communist government.

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