Microsoft is reportedly in talks to buy controversial video sharing app TikTok, as US president Donald Trump threatens to ban the platform in the US.
Reuters news agency says the owner Byte Dance has offered to sell the stake to Microsoft. The sale would serve to bolster Microsoft’s advertising business and would be the company’s most significant acquisition since its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016.
Donald Trump has not endorsed the deal, however, telling reporters aboard Air Force One last night: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”
When asked when this would happen, he said: “Soon, immediately. I mean essentially immediately.”
Over the weekend, TikTok responded to Donald Trump’s threat of a US ban by declaring: “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
In a video aimed at the app’s supporters, TikTok spokesperson Vanessa Pappas said it was “here for the long run” and called people to “stand for TikTok”.
A message to the TikTok community. pic.twitter.com/UD3TR2HfEf
— TikTok (@tiktok_us) August 1, 2020
It followed a suggestion from the president that he would stop the app from operating in the US, as tensions have risen between America and China.
Donald Trump said he plans to ban the app, adding he would use his executive powers to do so
The US has repeatedly warned of a security threat from Beijing and accused it of billions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property theft. China has denied the claims.
Pappas said: “We’ve heard your outpouring of support and we want to say thank you. We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
TikTok later said in a statement:
“These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1bn creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US.”
Trump said he has the authority to ban the app from his country, and it could be done through executive action as early as this weekend.
“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” he told reporters on Air Force One.
The US president has signed an order forcing Chinese-based TikTok owner ByteDance to sell the US portion of its app due to national security concerns, according to The Washington Post.
The New York Times and others are reporting that the owner is in advanced talks with Microsoft to sell the US arm.
US military personnel have been discouraged from using Chinese technology over security fears, while Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reportedly told staff not to use TikTok.
Reuters reported on Friday the pair were in “exploratory deal talks,” citing people familiar with the matter.
Forcing Bytedance to divest would potentially resolve, in part, long-held data concerns for some policy makers about Chinese-owned companies operating on US soil.