The popular social media app TikTok has been considering different ways it can separate itself from the large Chinese technology company that owns it, ByteDance, as a U.S. ban looms. One of those avenues is for American investors to buy out the app.
In a statement released by TikTok, they said that keeping the app running is their main objective, so changing their business model wouldn't be something they're against.
"We remain fully committed to protecting our users' privacy and security as we build a platform that inspires creativity and brings joy for hundreds of millions of people around the world," a TikTok spokesperson said.
According to NPR, this week Congress advanced legislation that would make it so that federal employees would not be able to use TikTok on government-issued devices, as Washington continues to crackdown on the Chinese-owned app. A former member of general counsel at the National Security Agency, Stewart Baker, said that Washington is looking at TikTok the same way they would look at any other business with American sanctions.
"When we talk about sanctions against Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats, well, the sanctions are that no American can do business with them," he said. "And now that same sanction might be used against TikTok."
Baker went on to describe how if the ban were to go through, then there would be heavy fines and consequences connected to American's who chose to still use the app while it's still connected to its Chinese parent company. TikTok also would no longer be available in the app store.
"No American can give them advertising money," he said. "No American may pay them for the app. No American can enter into a transaction to put them into their app store."
Despite TikTok saying that if they had a request from Beijing to share any of the information they have gathered in the app they would decline, Baker clarified that if the Chinese government really wanted to extract information from the app that they can whenever they want.
"The assumption, which I think is accurate, is any time the Chinese government wants it, they can have it," Baker said.
The conclusion, then, is that if things continue to move the way they have in Congress, that TikTok might inevitably reach it's end in the United States if they stay connected to their company in China unless an American investor or someone else comes and takes over.