ByteDance Will Shut Down TikTok in US Rather Than Comply with Divestment Demand

by | Apr 25, 2024

ByteDance Will Shut Down TikTok in US Rather Than Comply with Divestment Demand

by | Apr 25, 2024

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ByteDance says it will not sell off its popular video-sharing app TikTok after President Joe Biden signed a law that will ban the platform from American users in nine months if it is not sold away from Chinese ownership. 

Several sources inside ByteDance say TikTok is not for sale, Reuters reported Thursday. The company officials explained that while TikTok is only a small portion of ByteDance’s business, the technology used by the platform is also utilized across ByteDance’s other services. The company believes selling TikTok will hurt its other business. 

On Wednesday, President Biden signed a bill that will ban TikTok in nine months if the platform does not divest of all Chinese ownership. Some 170 million Americans—including Biden’s own reelection campaign—use the platform. 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said he believes the company can defeat the ban in court on constitutional grounds and argued the platform will not be sold or banned. “Rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere,” Chew said. “The facts and the Constitution are on our side, and we expect to prevail again.”

Senator Rand Paul also voiced hopes TikTok would prevail in court. “The censors who abound in Congress will likely vote to ban TikTok or force a change in ownership. It will likely soon be law,” Paul wrote in a recent op-ed published by Reason. “I think the Supreme Court will ultimately rule it unconstitutional, because it would violate the First Amendment rights of over 100 million Americans who use TikTok to express themselves.”

American politicians argue TikTok must be banned, or at least severed from ByteDance, because the app presents a national security risk. They claim that Beijing could utilize the site’s data and algorithm to wage an intelligence or disinformation campaign against Americans. 

However, there is no proof China has used TikTok for any nefarious operations against the US. Additionally, Chew has argued that TikTok is a global company and not merely Chinese-owned. During a congressional hearing last year, the executive said that three of TikTok’s five board members are Americans, while 60% of TikTok is owned by global investment firms and another 20% is owned by employees. The remaining 20% stake is held by ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming.  

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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