Report: TikTok's Chinese owner willing to completely divest U.S. operations to avert banning by Trump

Report: TikTok's Chinese owner willing to completely divest U.S. operations to avert banning by Trump

A follow-up to Jazz’s post this morning. If your choice is between losing your share of the U.S. market by government edict and losing your share of the U.S. market by cashing out, your choice is a simple one.

China’s ByteDance has agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, after President Donald Trump said on Friday he had decided to ban the popular short-video app, two people familiar with the matter said on Saturday…

ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said…

Under ByteDance’s new proposal, Microsoft will be in charge of protecting all U.S. user data, the sources said. The plan allows for another U.S. company other than Microsoft to take over TikTok in the United States, the sources added.

It’ll be a relief to have TikTok users’ data out of the hands of the extremely sinister Chinese Communist Party and in the hands of the somewhat less sinister U.S. tech industry.

Did Trump practice a little art o’ the deal last night with his ban threat, squeezing ByteDance to drop their attempt to retain a minority stake in TikTok?

The new proposal is reportedly on his desk, subject to his approval because of the national-security concerns raised by TikTok and the involvement of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

If you’re unfamiliar with the app and the natsec concerns around it, spend some time with this Twitter thread compiled by a guy who’s been adding hair-raising new reports about TikTok’s spyware as he finds them online — and there are many. The U.S. military warned personnel awhile back to stop using the app because of the security risk it poses. Joe Biden’s campaign warned personnel to delete it earlier this week. China is building the most ambitious surveillance state the world has ever seen, with global ambitions, and its cutesy little video app is widely understood to be a small part of that. And yet many millions of dopey Americans (most of them young) continue to use it without a care in the world. As if there were a shortage of post-your-own-video platforms online.

I scoff at most claims of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” by MAGA types but there’s bona fide TDS happening in response to his threat to ban TikTok. One conspiracy theory I saw on Twitter last night alleged that this was a case of Trump doing a favor for his buddy Mark Zuckerberg, whose company is set to launch a TikTok competitor soon. By far the most popular theory, though, and one being pushed by a lot of people who should know better, is that the ban threat is nothing more than Trump throwing a tantrum because a comedian named Sarah Cooper has become famous doing snarky lip-sync videos to his soundbites on TikTok. Vogue magazine published an entire story devoted to the idea this morning.

It reminds me of Trump critics squealing with glee when Kim Jong Un’s degenerate sister was caught giving Mike Pence the side-eye at the winter Olympics a few years ago. When your contempt for Trump leads you to side with the world’s sleaziest communist regimes, you have indeed crossed the line from healthy skepticism into derangement. And what’s especially stupid about the Cooper theory is that she also posts her videos on Trump’s favorite platform, Twitter, and earns millions of views with them there. She won’t disappear if TikTok does. Nor will the millions of people who goof on him all day long on every other social media platform under the sun; he’s the president, after all. Anyone who thinks he’s following a personal vendetta in this case rather than expressing valid national-security concerns shared by seemingly everyone in the U.S. government who’s looked at the issue is either Very Online to a deeply unhealthy degree or is indeed suffering from TDS. No other alternatives.

Well, maybe one alternative. Many of TikTok’s teenaged users are old enough to vote. It may be that anti-Trumpers are playing up the possibility of a petty ulterior motive behind the banning of their favorite app in hopes that that’ll encourage them to turn out in bigger numbers against Trump this fall. Tell them that the president is legitimately worried about China harvesting data on Americans for nefarious ends and they might feel ambivalent about the ban. Tell them that the president is being spiteful because Cooper’s videos gave him the sads and they’re apt to hate him.

Here’s TikTok’s U.S. general manager promising that they’re not going anywhere. That depends on whether China retains control or not. We’ll see.

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Jazz Shaw 5:01 PM on March 22, 2023