Users and social media influencers alike have been watching the drama unfold over TikTok with bated breath. After President Donald J Trump passed an executive order that would have effectively shuttered TikTok in America after September 15th, people who rely on the platform for both entertainment and income are stressing about the future of their favorite platform. However, TikTok was able to strike an 11th-hour deal with a company that should hopefully allow the platform giant to remain in business.
Who won the bidding war to buyTikTok?
While Microsoft was considered the front-runner in sales talks initially, as the deadline approached, another company won the bid to acquire TikTok. Oracle appears to have emerged the victor. According to Yahoo! News, Microsoft announced that ByteDance had passed on a chance to strike a deal with them, and, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC on Monday morning that the White House had received a proposal from TikTok for an Oracle partnership.
ByteDance and Oracle still face several hurdles in completing a deal. First, they will need to win approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, an interagency group that is tasked with overseeing foreign investments in the U.S. A source familiar with the negotiations said both parties believed their deal was structured to satisfy all of the committee’s national security concerns. Even then, the deal still remains vulnerable to the larger geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing, and both governments could move to scuttle a deal if they deemed it politically advantageous.
TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide declined to comment, saying the company would not comment ‘on rumors or speculation.'”
Why did Trump shut down TikTok?
The answer to that depends on who you ask. According to the Executive Order, Trump considers TikTok a dangerous national security risk. The EO reads in part, “TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has reportedly been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States and over one billion times globally.
TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
So is TikTok a spy platform?
No independent investigations were done in the United States to verify the supposed risks that the president’s executive order touts. TikTok of course denies that it would ever share sensitive information with the Chinese government. The, “proof,” that Trump cites as being the reason for banning the app comes from a statement made by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The statement reads in part, “[TikTok is] stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”
However, Trump has provided no proof of these claims. CNN shared TikTok’s response, “TikTok slammed the order in a pointed statement on Friday, saying it ‘sets dangerous precedent’ undermining ‘global businesses’ trust in the United States’ and vowed to pursue all ‘remedies available,’ including legal action.
‘We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,’ the company said. ‘For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.'”
Does Trump have other motives for shuttering TikTok?
The answer to this question highlights the reason why it depends on who you ask about why Trump banned TikTok. Critics point to a concern of a more personal nature. CELEB explored Trump’s feud with TikTok, and it points to another possible motive for the President; “In June of 2020, President Trump planned a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Forbes reports that the Trump campaign boasted having received over one million requests for tickets for the venue, which only seats just over 19,000. But the turnout was somewhat different than they expected.
The campaign, in anticipation of a massive overflow crowd, set up a second speaking stage outside, hoping to accommodate the number of fans of the President that they expected to attend. But when only 6,200 people showed, Trump and his campaign staff were left reeling. They hastily deconstructed the extra stage, and tried to spin it in a positive way, suggesting claims of empty seats were, ‘fake news,’ and that protesters had prevented people from turning up.
…[Teenagers began claiming tickets and encouraging others to do so through TikTok in order to prank the president’s campaign and] the prank swelled to massive proportions when they involved K-pop stans, Korean pop star fans with huge fan bases and great social media reach. This escalation in effort garnered hundreds of thousands of ticket claims.
The venue was first-come, first-served, so people weren’t denied entry as a result of the campaign, but it inflated the numbers expected to attend and led the President’s people to expect support that did not materialize. It also messed with the campaign’s algorithm that they use to project support numbers for the campaign in general.
MSN quotes campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh, ‘Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever. Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number. Every rally is general admission and entry is first-come-first served. But we thank them for their contact information.’
But despite his attempt to seem unbothered, the President did not seem to share in his cavalier response to the blow dealt by K-pop stans and TikTok influencers. An image shared widely of Trump returning home from the rally shows a man who is unenthusiastic, who looks disappointed and upset, and was quickly turned into a meme mocking the whole incident.
It was not long after this blow to his ego that Trump began escalating his verbal attacks on TikTok.”
What did the executive order require TikTok to do?
The Order which was signed on August 6th, gave TikTok and it’s parent company ByteDance Ltd 45 days from issuance to essentially Americanize. Trump required TikTok to be bought by an American company within that time frame, in order to mitigate the risk it poses as a, “national security threat.”
In a move that had critics sounding the alarm bells, Trump also suggested in press conferences that he would require the U.S. government to receive a cut of any sales agreement. The Oklahoman reported, “Trump said Monday to reporters that the U.S. ‘should get a very large percentage of that price because we’re making it possible,’ adding that ‘we want and we think we deserve to have a big percentage of that price coming to America, coming to the Treasury.’
Trump sometimes floats ideas or actions that get set aside without follow-through. Appearing on the Fox Business Network Tuesday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow appeared to walk back the idea of a payment to the Treasury, saying ‘I don’t know if that’s a key stipulation.’”
What’s next for TikTok Now Oracle Has Bought It?
The sale to Oracle is apparently not a full sale, but it’s unclear which parts of the business will be acquired in this deal. The White House will apparently need to approve the terms of the sale before TikTok is released from constraints of the executive order which would take effect tomorrow.
But Trump isn’t the only problem breathing down TikTok’s neck. Music app Triller is gunning hard to replace TikTok amid political woes, and Trump’s presidential campaign has signed on to Triller in an obvious snub to the ByteDance-owned company.
TikTok will have to appease the president and battle with Triller to remain top dog. Both will be uphill battles, as a lot of big-name artists jumped ship from TikTok as they feared Trump’s scrutiny of the app would eventually spell their doom. But with influencers like the Sway House and Hype House boys, along with hundreds of independent creators, holding tight to their TikTok accounts, TikTok will continue to be a force to be reckoned with – if the President agrees that the sale complies with the executive order.
Questions of presidential authority and interference with a private business will be answered another day as ByteDance’s immediate concern was remaining in business in the US. Soon, though, a reckoning will have to come as legal questions are answered as to the extent of the president’s ability to both interfere with the free function of a private business and claim a cut of sales profit that he forced in the first place.