U.S. demands Chinese owners of TikTok sell stake to avoid ban of service: report

The popular video-sharing platform TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd. has been the subject of controversy and scrutiny for the past year. In the latest development, The Wall Street Journal reported that President Joe Biden’s administration has told Chinese owners of TikTok that they must sell their stakes in the company or face a ban in the U.S. This comes as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has demanded the sale. Last week, Biden, along with a dozen senators from both sides of the aisle, backed a bill that would allow the U.S. Commerce Secretary to block foreign technologies like TikTok on national security grounds.

The potential ban of TikTok in the US is not a new development. Former President Trump also threatened the ban, claiming that the app poses a national security risk because it collects data on US users that can be accessed by the Chinese government. However, his threats were never fully carried out as TikTok filed several lawsuits against the ban and managed to receive temporary reprieves through the court system.

The new administration’s stance on TikTok does not come as a surprise. During his election campaign, Biden was critical of Chinese tech companies and vowed to protect US personal data from being accessed by foreign governments. TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the US, has repeatedly denied any links to the Chinese government and claims to have implemented strict measures to protect user data.

However, concerns over TikTok’s security and privacy measures persist. In 2019, the app was found to have vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to gain access to users’ personal information. Last year, it was discovered that TikTok had been accessing users’ clipboards on iOS devices without their permission, raising alarm over the app’s potential to access sensitive information.

The push for TikTok’s sale also comes as the US and China continue their trade war. The Trump administration had imposed several tariffs on Chinese goods which Biden has yet to remove. The sale of TikTok could be seen as a way for the US to assert its dominance in the tech industry while also mitigating potential foreign threats to national security.

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has not yet released an official statement regarding the demand for its sale. However, it has been reported that ByteDance has been in talks with potential buyers for TikTok, including Oracle and Walmart. The company has also been exploring other options, such as spinning off TikTok’s US operations into a separate entity in which American investors would hold the majority stake.

The potential loss of TikTok could have significant implications for its millions of users in the US, particularly the younger generation who have made the app a cultural phenomenon. The app has been a platform for creative expression, with users sharing dance videos, lip-syncing to popular songs, and engaging in various viral challenges. The app’s algorithm also allows users to discover new content and connect with like-minded individuals from all over the world.

TikTok has also been a lucrative platform for content creators and influencers, with creators earning money through sponsorships, advertising deals, and merchandise sales. The loss of the platform could impact their livelihoods and force them to shift to other platforms, potentially diluting their audience.

The potential sale of TikTok also raises concerns over censorship and freedom of speech. In countries like China, the government has tight control over social media platforms and censors content that goes against their values. If a US-based company were to take over TikTok, there could be pressure to censor certain content and restrict the platform’s creative freedom.

In conclusion, the demand for TikTok’s sale by the Biden administration highlights the ongoing tensions between the US and China, particularly in the tech industry. While concerns over national security and privacy cannot be ignored, the loss of the app could have significant implications for its millions of users and content creators. It remains to be seen how ByteDance will respond to the demand for a sale and who will ultimately take control of the platform.


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