What’s going on with TikTok?


Over the past two months, TikTok’s fate in the U.S. has been unstable. Talk of a nation-wide ban is not new, but it looks as if a deal is in the future. (Photo in public domain)

President Donald Trump’s attempts to force a quick sale of popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok produced a tentative deal over the weekend that would see Oracle and Walmart take a stake in a new US company that will operate TikTok.

In August, the Trump administration set a plan to restrict access to TikTok. The concern was that the Chinese government may force TikTok’s parent company to share user data. According to the plan, TikTok wasn’t going to be available in U.S. app stores past September 20.

However, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has reached a deal with Walmart and Oracle that will allow the Chinese social media app to continue operating in the United States. Trump said he supports the deal two weekends ago. 

It’s hard to tell exactly what this agreement entails.

The deal would create a new company called TikTok Global. The U.S. would house the app’s headquarters, with four of the company’s five board members being Americans, Oracle and Walmart said in a joint statement.

The confusion comes in when ByteDance said it would retain 80% control of TikTok while selling 20% of the company to Walmart and Oracle. Oracle released a seemingly conflicting statement, claiming that Americans will have majority ownership, and “ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.”

President Donald Trump has spoken out about the deal himself in places like CNBC, arguing that TikTok must be completely controlled by Americans.

On September 23, China Daily published an editorial heavily criticizing the deal. “China has no reason to give the green light to such a deal, which is dirty and unfair and based on bullying and extortion,” wrote China Daily. China Daily is an English newspaper owned by the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party.

Right before the proposed September 20 deadline for the app ban, China’s Commerce Ministry called on the U.S. to “give up its bullying acts” towards the video app and messenger or face Beijing’s countermeasures to “safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”

China’s response to the US threatening to ban TikTok if American’s aren’t the owners of the app goes beyond social media. The deal’s outcome will effect Chinese-American relations. 

Over the past two years, sensitive technology has become a big area of contention. Last year, the US government conducted a campaign against China’s Huawei. Huawei makes smartphones and is a leading manufacturer of equipment for 5G wireless networks. Citing similar security concerns, the Trump administration cut off Huawei’s access to US technology.

As pressure expands to other parts of the tech industry, companies are considering the emergence of a new world order that could reshape how global firms do business. Whatever the outcome of TikTok is, it’s clear that the decision won’t just affect an app.


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