Last Friday it emerged that Microsoft was in talks to buy TikTok, the most popular social media app in years. Unfortunately for Microsoft (and TikTok) the app is also a political hot potato. Case in point: Also last Friday President Trump announced that he was considering banning the app due to never-ending national security concerns.
Why TikTok is such a political hot potato is because it’s owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company. Trump and some American lawmakers are concerned its Chinese ownership could mean that TikTok must hand over data on its U.S. users should the Chinese government demand it—hence, the threat to national security. To counteract any concerns America has over the app, ByteDance has recently been fielding offers from U.S. companies that may be interested in buying the app, which would give it an American owner and, presumably, extinguish the national security concerns.
But many assumed Trump’s proposed ban on TikTok meant any such deals would be called off—or at least put on hold. Yet, that’s not the case. Microsoft has announced that after a conversation between Microsoft CEO’s Satya Nadella and President Trump, Microsoft is “prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.”
Microsoft says those discussions will center around them buying the TikTok service in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It would then own and operate TikTok in these markets only. ByteDance would continue to own and operate TikTok in other markets. Microsoft added, “This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections. The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries.”
So does that mean Microsoft is for sure buying TikTok? It’s still up in the air. However, Microsoft has promised that it will complete its discussions with TikTok’s owner by September 15.