In a blog post on Sunday 2 August, Microsoft said that after a conversation between President Trump and its CEO Satya Nadella, “Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.” This move follows Trump’s announcement on Friday that he planned to ban the Chinese-owned social media platform from operating in the US. What is the TikTok ban exactly and what will happen to the video-sharing app in the US?
On Friday 31 July, Trump declared that he was going to “ban” the app from operating in the US over national security concerns. However, the US president didn’t clarify exactly how he would do so and what such an order would entail.
Following this news, while TikTokers started posting goodbye videos with links to their Instagram and Byte accounts, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo made an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, where he claimed that TikTok is “feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus—could be their facial recognition pattern, it could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they’re connected to.”
Pompeo had mentioned the possibility of a ban as early as 7 July, saying it was “something we’re looking at.” TikTok denied the accusations, stressing that its user data is stored in the US “with strict control on employee access.”
In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft said it was “prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” following a conversation between its CEO Satya Nadella and President Trump. It’s the first time the company has confirmed that it was in talks to acquire the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury,” the blog post reads. The company also added that it expects to move “quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020.”
For those of you thinking that this is nothing more than a simple interest in buying TikTok, the blog post also says that “the two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets.” This means that, although TikTok is not sold yet, the wheels are in motion.
It remains unclear exactly how Microsoft would take over those countries while not affecting other areas where TikTok operates, like Europe and Africa. Microsoft also explained it did not commit to undertaking the purchase entirely on its own, saying that the company “may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.”
Microsoft’s blog post describes the discussions as “preliminary” but also states that if it was to buy TikTok, the deal should be done before 15 September. The software company also added that it would “ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”