ByteDance May Shut Down TikTok in US Instead of Selling

( – Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has not only become one of the world’s most popular social media platforms — but also one of the most controversial. Former president Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the US unless its Chinese owners sold it; now, Congress has passed a law ordering its sale. There’s bad news for its fans, though. Parent company ByteDance might prefer to shut it down instead of selling it.

Legislators Target TikTok

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is probably the leading social media platform among under-25s. Its format, based on sharing and rating short video clips, seems to be incredibly addictive. It’s also become incredibly controversial; much of its content consists of far-left political activism, conspiracy theories, and “challenges” that encourage people to do things that are often humiliating, illegal, and sometimes dangerous.

Notably, China has its own separate version, Douyin, which is much more strictly regulated. Chinese users have to link their accounts to a verified identity and follow strict age guidelines.

Following concerns that TikTok was encouraging teens to commit crimes and passing user data to the Chinese Communist Party, the US government has repeatedly threatened to ban the app unless ByteDance sells its US subsidy, cutting the link between TikTok and the Beijing regime.

The US Army and Navy banned the app from official devices months ago, labeling it a security risk. Over 30 state governments have followed their example. Then, in April, the House passed a bill that would completely ban TikTok from the US unless ByteDance sells it. The Senate passed the legislation on April 23, and President Biden signed the measure the next day.

ByteDance Could Ax App

The government would be satisfied if TikTok were sold off and became independent of the Chinese communists, but it turns out ByteDance might not be willing to do that. On April 24, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said he expected to block the legislation through a legal challenge—but if he doesn’t, ByteDance says it has no plans to sell the app.

As popular as it is, TikTok runs at a loss. A quarter of TikTok’s revenue comes from the US, but ByteDance makes most of its money from Douyin and other apps. Importantly, those apps use the same proprietary algorithms as TikTok does, and even if the company was happy to sell them to a potential competitor –- it isn’t –- the Chinese government sees them as a strategic technology and regulates their export.

Four sources who spoke to Reuters called those algorithms ByteDance’s “secret sauce” and said ByteDance would prefer to lose its US business rather than sell its technology to an American buyer.

Will it do that, or cut its losses and shut down? The US government might breathe a sigh of relief if the troublesome app just goes away, but a lot of young voters could blame President Biden for the loss of their dubious “social” network.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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