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April 26, 2024
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Owner of TikTok denies willingness to sell amid looming US ban

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, has officially stated that it has no intentions to sell the popular social media platform. This declaration comes in response to mounting concerns following President Joe Biden’s signing of a bill that could potentially lead to a nationwide ban of TikTok in the United States.

In a statement released on Thursday via Toutiao, a news aggregation app owned by ByteDance and widely used in mainland China, the company refuted reports suggesting that it was exploring the sale of TikTok. ByteDance emphasized that it currently has no plans to divest TikTok.

The company’s response was prompted by an article from The Information claiming that ByteDance was considering scenarios for selling TikTok’s US operations, albeit without the algorithm that drives video recommendations. ByteDance attached screenshots of The Information’s report, which cited sources familiar with the deliberations.

Until this statement, ByteDance had maintained silence regarding the recent US legislation pushing for a forced sale of TikTok. The legislation, passed as part of a broader foreign aid package to support Israel and Ukraine, poses a significant threat to TikTok’s presence in the US. Under the new law, TikTok must secure a new owner within a limited timeframe or face a complete ban from the US, its largest market boasting 170 million users.

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, affirmed the company’s determination to contest the ban through legal channels. He assured users in a video posted on the app that TikTok was committed to remaining operational in the US.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has vocally opposed the forced sale of TikTok, asserting its legal authority to intervene. Beijing regards TikTok’s technology, particularly its algorithms, as strategically valuable and has taken measures to safeguard against any potential sale by ByteDance.

US lawmakers have long expressed concerns over TikTok’s ties to China, fearing data privacy breaches or content manipulation on behalf of the Chinese government. Despite limited evidence supporting these concerns, the fact that ByteDance is subject to Chinese national intelligence, data security, and cybersecurity laws has fueled apprehension.

China’s National Intelligence Law of 2018 mandates organizations and individuals to cooperate with national intelligence efforts, thereby obligating ByteDance to assist in intelligence gathering if required. Consequently, several countries, including the US and India, have implemented measures to restrict or ban TikTok’s usage by government officials.

In light of the US legislation and ongoing geopolitical tensions, the future of TikTok’s operations in the United States remains uncertain, with legal battles and diplomatic negotiations likely to shape its fate in the coming months.

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