ByteDance Firmly Rejects Notion of Selling TikTok

TikTok logo on smartphone
TikTok logo on smartphone | Image by Chesnot/Getty Images

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, has unequivocally stated its stance against a forced sale of the platform.

The firm’s declaration comes in response to mounting pressure from U.S. authorities to divest the platform or face a ban on U.S. soil. ByteDance’s assertion not to sell was made public via its official account on Toutiao, a Chinese social media platform it owns, per the BBC.

Toutiao claims to be one of China’s premier content discovery platforms, according to ByteDance.

As reported by The Dallas Express, President Joe Biden enacted legislation Wednesday mandating the potential prohibition of the social media giant TikTok unless ByteDance relinquishes its ownership stake. ByteDance was granted a nine-month window to comply with the divestiture requirement, failing which could result in a nationwide ban on the app for Americans.

India implemented a similar ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps in 2020 amid escalating tensions at the India-China border. While the Indian measure saw no ByteDance pushback, experts have suggested that a ban would not go over as smoothly in the United States, with a likely legal battle on constitutional grounds looming.

Notably, ByteDance’s ownership structure reveals a complex web of stakeholders, with Chinese founders holding a significant stake, while institutional investors, including prominent U.S. firms, command a substantial portion of ownership.

Approximately 60% of TikTok is under institutional investors’ ownership, notably U.S. investment entities such as the Carlyle Group, General Atlantic, and Susquehanna International Group, per the BBC. Meanwhile, the remaining 20% of the company is held by its global workforce, with the added detail that three of ByteDance’s five board members hail from the United States.

While ByteDance denies any allegations of government interference or overreach, the BBC reports that critics remain wary of the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged control over the company and its potential implications for data sovereignty regardless of American stakeholders present within company investments. As a result, TikTok has emerged as a focal point of geopolitical tensions between the United States and China.

TikTok users and stakeholders await the outcome of ByteDance’s legal maneuvers.

The ban has been a topic of political conversation since 2020 in the United States when former President Donald Trump sought to bar the application via an executive order. However, a federal judge deemed the action as exceeding Trump’s jurisdiction, thus permitting TikTok to continue operating.

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