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Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok amid rumors of Trump divestment order

  • July 31, 2020

Multiples reports around the popular social media app TikTok emerged on Friday as news of a potential US ban on the Chinese-owned app coincided with reports that tech giant Microsoft is in talks to acquire it.

“We are looking at TikTok. We may be banning TikTok,” US President Donald Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Florida on Friday. “There are a couple of options, but a lot of things are happening,” the president said.

The Trump administration earlier this week put TikTok — a video editing and sharing app popular with young people — under formal review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the US (CFIUS) amid fears China could use the service for spying.

Read more: What is China’s world order for the 21st century?

Meanwhile, US media outlets Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal on Friday shared reports from anonymous sources saying that the Trump administration will soon order the Chinese firm to divest its ownership of TikTok’s US operations.

The order could come as early as Friday, the sources said.

Microsoft makes moves to buy

The news coincided with further reports that Washington-based tech behemoth Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok from its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance.

Microsoft is currently negotiating the purchase of TikTok’s US business, sources familiar with the matter told the New York Times. 

The TikTok saga is the latest in a story of ever-growing tension between China and the US. A conflict that originally focused on trade disagreements has since developed into a broader dispute that now includes such issues as Hong Kong sovereignty, Beijing’s treatment of its Muslim minority population, and increased US scrutiny of Chinese tech firms.

TikTok ‘confident’ in its future

The Beijing-based app is wildly popular with younger demographics that use it to edit, share and view short-form videos. TikTok has an estimated billion users globally.

TikTok on Friday issued a statement on the developments, saying, “While we do not comment on rumors or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”

kp/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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