TikTok may drop its ties to China in very short order. TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, has agreed to sell its stake in the social network’s US operations to avert a possible ban.
U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. ByteDance’s concession will test whether Trump’s threat to ban TikTok is a negotiating tactic, or whether he is intent on cracking down on a social media app that has up to 80 million daily active users in the United States.
It was not clear Saturday how the deal would involve Microsoft, or whether it would stave off a ban, but Media reported that Microsoft would be in charge of protecting US user data, and that the plan would allow another American company to take over TikTok in the US.
Trump told reporters onboard Air Force One late on Friday that he would issue an order for TikTok to be banned in the United States as early as Saturday.
“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.
ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said.
TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video on Saturday that “we’re not planning on going anywhere” and the company is “here for the long run.”