TikTok, the video-sharing platform that's become a mainstay of internet culture, is facing an uncertain future in the US, due to its ties to China thanks to its parent company ByteDance. After months of raising concerns about TikTok's national-security risks, the Trump administration took action this week aimed at banning the app in the US. However, it's still unclear whether Donald Trump has the power to do such a thing. Now, ByteDance has less than 45 days to avoid a ban by finalizing a deal for a US company to take over TikTok's US operations. Microsoft is the frontrunner in the deal, which is estimated to be valued between $10 billion and $30 billion. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Here's everything you need to go about what's going on with Trump's attempt to ban TikTok — explained in just 30 seconds. TikTok, a product of the massive Chinese company ByteDance, came to the US in 2018. The app's addictive recommendation engine and simple video-making process quickly turned it into a mainstay in internet culture. It now has more than 100 million users in the US. As TikTok's popularity has grown, so has scrutiny from US lawmakers over its roots in China, a country President Donald Trump has readily painted as an enemy. Chinese law requires domestic companies to "cooperate" with the state's security efforts — a connection that raised concerns about the government's influence over TikTok content moderation in the US and its access to American users' data. The US government quietly launched an investigation in November 2019 into TikTok's potential national-security risks, a review led by a government body called CFIUS. TikTok's popularity continued to rocket during the coronavirus pandemic. Mainstream attention turned to TikTok when its userbase mobilized to falsely inflate the expected attendance for a major Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the start of July 2020, Trump administration officials first stated publicly they were considering banning TikTok in the US. On July 31, reports emerged the president would soon turn his words into action as the Trump administration weighed two executive orders: a nationwide TikTok ban, or a directive that ByteDance divest its TikTok operations in the US. In anticipation of a ban, ByteDance started shopping around for potential buyers. Although Trump seemed to initially lean toward a ban, he acquiesced in allowing ByteDance to hold talks to sell off TikTok's US operations — an acquisition in which that Microsoft appears to be the eager frontrunner. Trump has given ByteDance until Sept. 15 to find a buyer, or he says he'll ban TikTok. He's also issued an executive order, set to take effect in less than 45 days, that will bar US companies and entities from "any transactions" with TikTok and ByteDance. However, it's unclear whether Trump has the power to issue a nationwide ban on an app like TikTok. Experts have questioned whether such action could violate Americans' First Amendment rights, and how effective the ban be in practice.SEE ALSO: No, Donald Trump can't 'ban' TikTok Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
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Trump takes another swing at TikTok with a new executive order seeking to force parent company ByteDance to sell the viral video app
Trump issued a new executive order Friday seeking to force ByteDance to sell popular viral video...Trump issued a new executive order Friday seeking to force ByteDance to sell popular viral video app TikTok. Trump's order aims to retroactively invalidate ByteDance's purchase of Musical.ly, the app that eventually became TikTok, citing national security concerns. Trump's legal authority to invalidate the deal rests on an investigation by the CFIUS, a division of the US Treasury responsible for reviewing foreign deals that could pose security risks. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement on Friday that the agency had completed an "exhaustive review" and "unanimously recommended" that Trump unwind the deal, according to Bloomberg reporter Saleha Mohin. The move comes on the heels of an executive order Trump issued last week that also targeted TikTok by banning American companies from doing business with its Chinese parent company ByteDance. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday again targeting viral video app TikTok and its Chinese owner ByteDance. The order seeks to unwind ByteDance's acquisition of Musical.ly, a lip-sync video app that the company purchased in 2017 and eventually merged with TikTok, claiming it raised national security concerns. The order states that ByteDance's purchase of Musical.ly "is hereby prohibited, and ownership by ByteDance of any interest in Musical.ly in the United States, whether effected directly or indirectly through ByteDance, or through ByteDance's subsidiaries, affiliates, or Chinese shareholders, is also prohibited." It gives ByteDance 90 days to sell off any assets that enable it to operate TikTok within the US as well as any data it obtained from US-based TikTok or Musical.ly users. "As we've said previously, TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection," a TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider. "We're committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come." Any deal terms would be subject to approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a division of the US Treasury Department responsible for overseeing transactions between American and foreign companies that could pose national security risks. A 1988 law allows Trump to block foreign deals like ByteDance's acquisition of Musical.ly, but only after CFIUS conducts its own security review. CFIUS has been probing the Musical.ly deal since late 2019, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement Friday that "CFIUS conducted an exhaustive review of the case and unanimously recommended this action to the President in order to protect US users from exploitation of their personal data." Mnuchin's statement: “CFIUS conducted an exhaustive review of the case and unanimously recommended this action to the President in order to protect U.S. users from exploitation of their personal data.” https://t.co/qxQ89BODln pic.twitter.com/EmstIg3n55 — Saleha Mohsin (@SalehaMohsin) August 15, 2020 However, forcing ByteDance to divest its US-based TikTok assets is still not the same as a nationwide ban on TikTok, a move legal experts said would be legally dubious. Last week, Trump took another swipe at TikTok, issuing an executive order that makes it illegal for American companies to do business with TikTok, effectively giving ByteDance 45 days to sell the app. Already, last week's order is generating legal challenges. US-based TikTok employees said they plan to sue the Trump administration, arguing the order will make it illegal for their employer to pay them, and TikTok plans to file a separate lawsuit of its own. Trump has frequently attacked TikTok over the past few months, alleging the Chinese government could pressure it to spy on Americans by accessing their data, censor content Beijing finds politically objectionable, or sway US elections by quietly manipulating its algorithms.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Leslie Odom, Jr.'s $500,000 gamble that led to a starring role in 'Hamilton'
Bill Gates called Microsoft's potential TikTok deal a 'poison chalice' and said 'who knows what's going to happen'
In an interview with WIRED published Friday, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates talked about the...In an interview with WIRED published Friday, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates talked about the state of US coronavirus testing, vaccines, and Microsoft's potential TikTok deal. On Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that banned TikTok's parent company – ByteDance, which is a Chinese firm – from operating business in the US. Regarding Microsoft's potential acquisition of TikTok, Gates, who now serves as the company's technology advisor, compared the deal to "a poison chalice." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates described Microsoft's potential acquisition of TikTok as a "poison chalice" in an interview with WIRED published on Friday. Gates, who now serves as the technology advisor of Microsoft after stepping down from the board of directors in March to focus on philanthropic efforts, shared his thoughts on coronavirus testing, vaccinations, and Microsoft's potential TikTok deal. Gates noted that "being big in the social media business is no simple game," telling the publication that Microsoft making the industry more competitive is "probably a good thing." When asked about President Donald Trump's demand that TikTok be sold to an American company, with the federal government taking a cut, Gates described the move as "strange." "I agree that the principle this is proceeding on is singly strange. The cut thing, that's doubly strange. Anyway, Microsoft will have to deal with all of that," he said. Gates also deflected when he was asked whether he was "wary" about Microsoft jumping into the social media "game." "I mean, this may sound self-serving, but I think that the game being more competitive is probably a good thing. But having Trump kill off the only competitor, it's pretty bizarre," he said. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in July that the US was looking into a potential ban of the TikTok app. At the end of July, the New York Times reported Microsoft was in talks for acquiring TikTok. In August, Microsoft officially confirmed it has been in talks to acquire TikTok's operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and stated it will complete discussions by September 15th. On Thursday, President Trump issued an executive order that banned TikTok's parent company ByteDance, a Chinese firm, from "any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States." President Trump mentioned in the order that the popular app could "allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information." On Saturday, NPR reported that "a person who was directly involved in the forthcoming suit but was not authorized to speak for the company" stated that TikTok planned to sue the Trump administration as early as Tuesday. Read more: Trump just issued 2 executive orders aimed at Chinese-owned apps, barring US companies from doing business with TikTok parent company ByteDance and messaging app WeChat TikTok is at the heart of a wild geopolitical dogfight and it could result in Microsoft buying TikTok. Here's what's going on. Trump's attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat could face legal trouble for infringing on free speech, according to a First Amendment expert Microsoft could be "a great steward" of TikTok's US assets if reported sale talks succeed, says Josh Elman, an investor in the app's predecessor Musical.ly Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
Amid President Donald Trump's threats to ban TikTok, or force it to sell its US operations,...Amid President Donald Trump's threats to ban TikTok, or force it to sell its US operations, Twitter was reported to be in talks with the video-sharing app Saturday night. The Wall Street Journal reported that a potential deal, if it materializes, could involve TikTok's US operations. Both Twitter and TikTok declined to comment on the report to Business Insider. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Another tech giant was reported to be on TikTok's dance card Saturday night — Twitter. The Wall Street Journal's Georgia Wells and Cara Lombardo reported the two popular apps are in "preliminary" talks for a possible combination. "People familiar with the matter" told the paper that a deal, which it said Twitter may not end up pursuing, would involve TikTok's US operations. Twitter declined to comment on the report to Business Insider. TikTok's head of corporate communications Josh Gartner said, "We don't comment on market rumors." President Donald Trump has been harping on the popular video-sharing app to ditch its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, citing security concerns. Last week, Trump said he would "ban" the app, which he can't exactly do, if ByteDance doesn't sell. Microsoft was seen as the frontrunner for a deal last week, with estimates for a potential deal for TikTok's US operations at $10 billion and $30 billion, Business Insider's Paige Leskin reported. It's unclear what a Twitter-TikTok deal could look like, how much it could cost, or how Twitter could pay for it. The WSJ pointed out that Twitter's market cap is about $29 billion, while Microsoft's exceeds $1.6 trillion. "Because it is much smaller, Twitter has reasoned that it would be unlikely to face the same level of antitrust scrutiny as Microsoft or other potential bidders, said people familiar with the discussions," Wells and Lombardo wrote. Twitter has about 186 million users, according to its most recent earnings at the end of July. TikTok has more than 100 million users in the US alone. Read the full report from The Wall Street Journal »SEE ALSO: There is still no proof TikTok is spying on you for China Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown