UPDATED 8/7/20, 12:15 a.m. ET: President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that prohibits U.S. transactions with TikTok's parent company ByteDance. The order will effectively ban TikTok in 45 days, unless ByteDance sells the video-sharing platform to another company within that timeframe.
The Trump administration has called on Google and Apple to remove TikTok from its Apps stores, claiming the platform poses a risk to national security risk.
"TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has reportedly been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States and over one billion times globally," the order reads. "TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage."
Trump signed a similar order directed at WeChat, which is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
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Indeed, as previously reported, Trump again spouted some shit about "banning" the popular app last week. He was also said to have expressed a lack of support for a then-possible Microsoft buyout of TikTok. Late Sunday, however, Microsoft announced that it would be continuing discussions about a possible purchase, adding that talks will be wrapped up "no later than" Sept. 15.
"Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks … During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President," a Microsoft rep said in a statement, adding that CEO Satya Nadella and Trump had spoken prior to this announcement. "The discussions with ByteDance will build upon a notification made by Microsoft and ByteDance to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)."
Per the rep, both Micosoft and ByteDance have shared notice of their intent "to explore a preliminary proposal" involving a purchase in territories including the U.S., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The proposed purchase would see Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these areas, though Microsoft will also retain the power to invite additional American investors into the proceedings "on a minority basis."
And though legal experts have pointed out that the government doesn't typically have the authority to take a cut of of a private deal via the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, Trump later said some shit about how he was demanding a "very large percentage" of the sale price.
Of course, if Microsoft is successful in their pursuit, this will mark a major moment for the company in terms of their stature among the social media landscape. Still, it's hard as hell to care about any of this due to the aforementioned pandemic, not to mention the TikTok-obsessed POTUS' related fumblings.