Thursday, May 23, 2024

TikTok’s Chinese Owner ByteDance Says It Won’t Sell Video App Despite U.S. Pressure

HomeTechTikTok's Chinese Owner ByteDance Says It Won't Sell Video App Despite U.S....

ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the hugely popular video-sharing app TikTok, has firmly rejected reports that it plans to sell the U.S. operations of the app in response to a new U.S. law aimed at forcing such a sale or banning TikTok outright.

In a post on its own Toutiao social media platform, ByteDance flatly stated “ByteDance doesn’t have any plans to sell TikTok.” The statement came after a report from tech industry publication The Information claimed ByteDance was exploring selling TikTok’s U.S. business, excluding the core algorithm that powers the app’s personalized video feeds.

ByteDance included a screenshot of The Information’s article stamped with the Chinese characters meaning “false rumor” to underscore its forceful denial of any sale plans. A TikTok spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The resolute statement reflects the latest escalation in the high-stakes standoff between ByteDance and American authorities over TikTok, which has amassed well over 100 million U.S. users. Concerns have mounted among U.S. officials about the potential for the Chinese government to access TikTok user data or use the platform to push propaganda and misinformation campaigns.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed into law a measure giving the Biden administration authority to ban TikTok nationally if ByteDance does not divest itself of the app’s U.S. operations within a set timeframe. TikTok was quick to denounce the move as “severely unpalatable” and vowed to fight it as unconstitutional in court.

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Beijing has increasingly tightened its control over China’s private firms, sowing worries in the West about how much sway the Chinese Communist Party may hold over ByteDance, despite the company’s claims that the Chinese government cannot access its data or meddle with its content.

According to ByteDance, around 60% of the company is owned by institutional investors including major U.S. firms, while 20% is controlled by Chinese founder Zhang Yiming, and the remaining 20% is held by employees worldwide. Three of ByteDance’s five board seats are occupied by Americans.

However, the Chinese government has dismissed allegations of potential interference as baseless paranoia. It has warned that a U.S. ban on TikTok would backfire and “inevitably come back to bite” America.

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For now, any TikTok ban or forced sale remains on hold. The new U.S. law allows ByteDance a runway of up to a year to strike a deal, pushing any enforcement action into the tenure of the next presidential administration in 2025 at the earliest.

As the geopolitical showdown over TikTok rages on, ByteDance appears intent to continue battling to keep the video phenomenon under its full control rather than divest it, setting up a protracted legal crossfire unless the two superpowers can reach a resolution.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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