TikTok: Trump increases pressure and extends deadline for a deal

US President Donald Trump has extended the deadline for the sale of the social media platform TikTok and at the same time increases the pressure on its Chinese operator. The company Bytedance has to sell all business areas that are necessary to operate the TikTok app in the USA within 90 days, according to a new order issued by the president on Friday evening. In addition, Bytedance must delete all data that TokTok and its predecessor Musical.ly has collected from US users.

Against the backdrop of the trade war with China, the US president has been targeting popular Chinese social media app in recent weeks. In two rulings on August 6, Trump had banned US citizens from doing business with the Chinese companies ByteDance (TikTok) and Tencent (WeChat) because they represented a “threat” to national security. With the bans, due to come into force in 45 days, Trump wanted to force a sale. Bytedance believes the action is unconstitutional and has announced legal action.

Bytedance has been trying for some time to separate its international platform from the Chinese version. Microsoft had expressed an interest in acquiring the US business and other parts of TikTok. In the meantime, Twitter was also considered a possible buyer of TikTok. The negotiations between Microsoft and Bytedance were burdened by the presidential decree, but they continued. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke to Trump about possible framework conditions. Company founder and ex-CEO Bill Gates doesn’t think the takeover is a good idea.

With the new disposition Trump is now extending the deadline for a sale, giving potential buyers more time to negotiate a deal. At the same time, the US president is increasing the pressure on Bytedance. In the ruling, Trump retroactively prohibits the sale of all US parts of Musical.ly to Bytedance. The Chinese company now has to sell the business areas necessary for operation in the USA within a period of 90 days and delete all data generated in the US business.

Meanwhile, TikTok has also been targeted by regulators in Europe. The European data protection authorities want to coordinate their activities with regard to the Chinese app and have set up a task force for this purpose. The Dutch data protection authority is currently dealing with TikTok. The French data protectionists are checking TikTok’s handling of user data and child protection. Bytedance tries to allay the concerns of the EU authorities and has joined the voluntary commitment of large social media companies for more transparency. TikTok is also planning to build a data center in Ireland.


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