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Saturday July 20, 2024

ByteDance denies plans of selling TikTok after US ban law

"Foreign media reports about ByteDance exploring the sale of TikTok are untrue," company says in statement

By Web Desk
April 26, 2024
A representational image of a person holding a smartphone with TikTok logo on its phone screen. — AFP/File
A representational image of a person holding a smartphone with TikTok logo on its phone screen. — AFP/File

Chinese technology firm ByteDance — the parent company of TikTok a short-form video hosting service — has denied news about selling the popular app amid the United States' TikTok Ban Bill, reported BBC on Friday.

A technology-focused American news website, The Information, had reported that the Chinese company was looking into possibilities for selling the video-focused social media platform without its "powerful secret algorithm" which recommends videos to billions of users across the world.

ByteDance, however, denied that it was mulling sale of the popular service.

"Foreign media reports about ByteDance exploring the sale of TikTok are untrue," the company said in a statement release on Thursday.

It added: "ByteDance does not have any plans to sell TikTok."

The statement was issued on a Chinese-language platform, Toutiao, which is also owned by ByteDance.

The news surfaced after lawmakers in US, set the nine-month deadline on national security grounds, alleging that TikTok can be used by the Chinese government for espionage and propaganda as long as it is owned by ByteDance.

TikTok has been a political and diplomatic hot potato for years, first finding itself in the crosshairs of former president Donald Trump's administration, which tried unsuccessfully to ban it.

It has forcefully denied any link to the Chinese government, and said it has not and will not share US user data with Beijing.

TikTok says it has also spent around $1.5 billion on "Project Texas", under which US user data would be stored in the United States.

Its critics say the data is only part of the problem, and that the TikTok recommendation algorithm — the "secret sauce" for its success — must also be disconnected from ByteDance.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has said the company will take the fight against the new law to the courts, but some experts believe that for the US Supreme Court, national security considerations could outweigh free speech protection.

ByteDance has enjoyed explosive growth in recent years, becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world. Its international investors, including US firms General Atlantic and SIG as well as Japan's SoftBank, have stakes worth billions.

"TikTok US is a very small part of the overall business. It is an exciting part of the story, for sure, but... relative to the overall size, it's a very small part," ByteDance investor Mitchell Green, of US-based Lead Edge Capital, told CNBC television last month.

"If it was kicked out of the US, we would not sell."


— Additional input by AFP