Between threats of ban and negotiations, TikTok in limbo in the United States


What will eventually happen to TikTok in the United States? The social network, unloved by US President Donald Trump, has been seeing all the colors for forty-eight hours, between threats of ban at the top and stalled negotiations. The cause of this disenchantment? TikTok is suspected by Washington of sharing its data with Beijing, which the company has consistently denied.

On Friday, July 31, after weeks of rumors and pressure, the White House announced that the president would sign an official order forcing ByteDance, the Chinese parent company, to part with it, in the name of protecting national security. Several American media revealed in the wake that Microsoft was in advanced negotiations to buy the application adored by teenagers.

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But on Friday night, aboard the presidential plane, Mr. Trump announced that he “Banned TikTok from the United States”. He also told reporters that he was not in favor of a takeover of TikTok’s US operations by a company in his country.

Repatriating it to the United States, thanks to an acquisition, seemed to many players involved an ideal solution. But negotiations between Microsoft and TikTok stalled on Saturday, according to the Wall Street Journal, because of the opposition of the US president. According to the daily, the discussions could have ended on Monday. Both companies are now expecting more clarity from the White House.

“Here to stay”

The ban announced by the president questions and raises concern. “We are here to stay”, said on Saturday 1er August Vanessa Pappas, head of the United States branch of TikTok, in a playful video on the app, for users. “We have heard your outpouring of support and we want to say thank you. We have no intention of leaving “, she insisted. Mme Pappas also said to herself “Proud” of the 1,500 American employees and promised to create “Ten thousand additional jobs in [le] countries over the next three years ”.

The entertainment platform – mostly short music videos – has nearly one billion users worldwide. Its popularity has grown even further amid the pandemic months.

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“The United States would be the big losers if TikTok were banned”, said Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, whose views are generally aligned with those of tech giants, said Saturday.

“Millions of Americans, including many Trump supporters, use it to create and share content. (…) All of its servers are located outside of China, and there is no evidence that [TikTok] poses a threat to national security. “

“Banning a platform, even if it was legally possible, harms freedom of expression online and does nothing to address the larger problem of unjustified government surveillance.”, for her part reacted Jennifer Granick, of the powerful civil rights organization ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).

Read also US politicians fear TikTok could be used to interfere in elections

In recent months, the social network has tried to demonstrate that its identity and practices are firmly anchored in the United States. 1er In June, Kevin Mayer, the former head of Disney’s streaming platforms (Disney +, Hulu, and ESPN +), took over as head of the platform.

In early July, the app shut down its activity in Hong Kong due to Beijing’s recent national security law, which gives more powers to the police, including surveillance. Not enough to reassure the US president, who considers most social media biased in favor of Democrats, despite having some eighty million Twitter followers.

The social network is also disputed elsewhere than in the United States. He has been banned since June 30 in India, where he was placed at the head of the list of 59 Chinese applications blocked by New Delhi on its territory for “Ensure the security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace”. Pakistan for its part recently launched “A final warning” to TikTok so that content judged “Immoral, obscene and vulgar” be deleted from its platform.

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The World with AFP


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