The owners of TikTok have 9 to 12 months to sell the company before US ban

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The legislation that forces TikTok’s owners to sell the company or else risk being banned from the United States – aka the “TikTok Ban” – was signed into law on Wednesday. Although it was originally passed as a standalone bill in the House of Representatives back in March, it stalled in the Senate. The House ended up revising it and putting it into a larger foreign aid package that contained funding for Ukraine and Israel, where it passed in both chambers of Congress before heading over to President Biden to be signed.

The TikTok ban has been a long-time coming. TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been raising alarm bells for government officials for a few years now. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have said that they’ve seen alarming intelligence briefings that convinced them to take action. ByteDance will now have 270 days – approximately nine months – to find new owners or else risk being taken out from US app stores and any “internet hosting services” that support it. There’s a lot of moving parts, and CNN has a good breakdown of it all.

What does the TikTok legislation do? The bill that Biden signed gives TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance, 270 days to sell TikTok. Failure to do so would lead to significant consequences: TikTok would be prohibited from US app stores and from “internet hosting services” that support it. That would effectively restrict new downloads of the app and interaction with its content. Biden’s decision to sign the bill on Wednesday puts the deadline for a sale at January 19, 2025. Under the legislation, however, Biden could extend the deadline another 90 days if he determines the company’s made progress toward a sale, giving TikTok potentially up to a year before facing a ban.

What is TikTok saying? TikTok is threatening legal action to oppose the law. In a video posted to TikTok, company CEO Shou Chew told users, “Rest assured: we aren’t going anywhere. We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts. The facts and the Constitution are on our side and we expect to prevail.” In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson called the law “unconstitutional” and said it “would devastate” the platform’s 170 million US users and 7 million businesses that operate on the app.

What does this mean for my use of the app? If TikTok can’t separate from ByteDance by the deadline, then US TikTok users could hypothetically be cut off by mid-January. But that is still a big “if.” So for now, TikTok fans can continue using the app as before, though they might begin to see more creators — or the company itself — speaking out in the app to oppose the legislation.

What are TikTok’s options? TikTok promised to take the US government to court if Biden signed the bill. In a memo on Saturday, a top TikTok executive wrote to employees that this would be the “beginning, not the end” of a long process to challenge what the company calls unconstitutional legislation that censors Americans’ speech rights and that would harm small businesses that depend on the app. In March, Chew vowed to continue fighting, “including (by) exercising our legal rights.”

Does TikTok have a case? First Amendment experts say a bill that has the ultimate effect of censoring TikTok users could be shot down by the courts. “Longstanding Supreme Court precedent protects Americans’ First Amendment right to access information, ideas, and media from abroad,” said Nadine Farid Johnson, policy director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “By banning TikTok, the bill would infringe on this right, and with no real pay-off. China and other foreign adversaries could still purchase Americans’ sensitive data from data brokers on the open market.” A court challenge could lead to the measure being temporarily blocked while the litigation plays out, likely over multiple years. But if a court declines to grant a temporary injunction, TikTok could have to scramble to comply with the law.

So what if TikTok gets sold to someone else? The trouble is that TikTok’s parent is subject to Chinese law, and the Chinese government is on record opposing a sale. In recent years, China has implemented export controls governing algorithms, a policy that would seem to cover the incredibly successful algorithm that powers TikTok’s recommendation engine. If the Chinese government doesn’t want to let ByteDance relinquish TikTok’s algorithm, the thinking goes, it could block the sale outright. Alternatively, it may allow TikTok to be sold but without the lucrative algorithm that forms the basis for its popularity.

Can TikTok still succeed without its algorithm? That would be the difficult question facing the company in the event of a forced sale. Without the secret sauce that has propelled the app to 170 million US users, the app could be as good as dead.

[From CNN]

The original version of the bill that passed the House in March had given ByteDance an earlier deadline to sell, which would have been before the presidential election in November. This clears that hurdle, but is likely to be a huge sticking point. Trump, who is *snorts* famously tough on China, was originally in favor of the forced sale but did a flip flop on it a few weeks ago after talking to one of his billionaire donor friends who just happens to have a large financial stake in TikTok. I already see chaos agents on Twitter threatening to burn it all down over a f–cking app, so this could be an annoying wrench in an election where so much is already at stake.

This is not an unprecedented thing, either. In 2020, the government forced the Chinese company that owned Grindr to sell to a US company amidst similar security concerns. I don’t have TikTok so I don’t have skin in the game either way, I but am curious to hear people’s thoughts outside of the Twitter hysterics. I just spent some time on Legal Reddit and even there, it seems to be a debate over if the courts decide that this is an issue regarding whether or not a foreign government has the rights to operate within the US or if it’s infringing upon Americans’ rights to use the app. Personally, I feel like national security is the bigger issue here and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you have people like Elizabeth Warren and Tom Cotton voting the same way based on briefings that they’re privy to and we aren’t, then there is something there.

TikTok stars Addison Rae, Charlie and Dixie D’amelio and Bella Poarch are shown. Header photo is of TikTok CEO Shou Chew. Credit: Getty and

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41 Responses to “The owners of TikTok have 9 to 12 months to sell the company before US ban”

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  1. Hypocrisy says:

    How are people supposed to get their cat video fix if they do this? (That is all anyone I know uses the app for)

    • theRobinsons says:

      That ain’t gonna happen. How would we Americans feel if China told Apple, if you don’t sell your company to a Chinese firm we are going to shut you down in China? The world’s largest marketplace? That was just an appeasement to shut the schizophrenic GOp house down. It was the only way to get the aide packages passed. 9 to 12 months makes way for the election to have passed. Trump is not gonna ever inhabit that presidency again. His time is over and done.

      • Fifty-50 says:

        This makes absolutely no sense. Google, Facebook, Twitter are all banned in China and unable to operate in “the world’s largest marketplace.” They would be able to do business if they sold to a Chinese company. Yet here we are, with no outrage.

      • Kitten says:

        I don’t agree with the ban at all but Fifty-50 is absolutely correct and this is the only argument that has some validity to it “we use their platform but ours are all effectively banned”.

      • Bella says:

        This. Also, TikTok will carry on without American involvement. I don’t say this to be rude but many users have been saying they look forward to a less American-centric algorithm.

    • Joy Liluri says:

      I will say that tik tok really does help amplify voices that would otherwise be silenced or shouted over. It’s helped broaden my world view and given me access to a lot of info that’s just not available elsewhere. I say this as an elder millennial.

      That said – the security aspect is troubling. But I sort of have a hard time taking it seriously because well…. Our information is all out there. All of it. Regardless of what we do or not. Like Alexa was listening to conversations. Our phones definitely listen to us and that impacts the ads we see. It just sort of feels like …. Really?

  2. Stef says:

    Tik Tok has already been banned on Canadian government devices due to the insane amount of personal data collected, stored, and sold. So many young kids get on it without realizing the potential security implications.

    Personally, I’d like to see it go. Then again, something else will just take its place.

  3. Genevieve says:

    I’m not American, but Canadian, and I don’t use TikTok (except to check out something that went viral occasionally) so unless the sale happens without the algorithm, this probably won’t have any impact on my life.

    But, speaking as a veteran teacher, I REALLY hope it goes the way of MySpace. It is having a very very bad effect (along with other distractions, obviously) on thinking and learning and socialization, and really all the things we need for a functioning society.

    And I realized the other day – in a generation or two, with the kids with low literacy and critical thinking growing up, and raising their own babies, who *need* lots of verbal interaction with varied vocabularies to develop their own brains, but who won’t get it with parents glued to their phones … Well, it was a nightmare thought that I had to shut down immediately. We’re in big trouble, folks, if things don’t change.

    • Kate says:

      Critical thinking – yes. Look, I had my little stint of tiktok addiction during covid and I get why so many people love it and may feel upset about this. However, I am an elder millenial with a gen z babysitter in my house daily and I’ve heard her say things recently that kind of alarmed me about the influence tiktok has on her. Like during the eclipse she was afraid to drive – not because of the dangers of other distracted drivers, but because “so many tiktoks” told her if she drove during the eclipse she could go blind. It makes me really concerned about the influence of these user generated social media platforms that basically ply people with dopamine to keep them hooked and taking in whatever someone who seems really convicted says without any critical thinking of WHO is saying this and HOW can I verify if it’s true. Youtube is probably the next greatest evil or possibly even worse. I know that’s not why the government is banning it (free speech and all) but I appreciate the ban for that reason.

  4. smegmoria says:

    This doesn’t make sense to me. If China wants info on Americans all they would have to do is buy the data from American firms, like our own government. There is talk that the real reason for this is young people’s anti war and pro Palestinian sentiment.

    • sevenblue says:

      They can buy from American companies, but in that case, American government knows what they have. I read that Chinese government has full access to tiktok’s data and can access to it anytime they want. Besides that, it can be used as a tool to shape public opinion through algorithm. That is why countries like China, Russia have their own social media sites.

    • MichaelaCat says:

      This was a conversation a long time before that.

      Please look into the way China is using propaganda and is actively trying to undermine and control the internet.

      They have the power at home in a draconian way, but are trying to push into it in Western countries as well.

      • Fifty-50 says:

        Yeah, this has been in the works since Trump’s presidency. He issued an executive order for ByteDance to sell TikTok the first time in August 2020. That led to TikTok restructuring, and they provided assurance to the US government that the Chinese government couldn’t access US data. After that, around June 2021, TikTok changed its privacy policy to include the collection of biometric data.

        The introduction of AI is what has finally tipped the scales.

    • NikkiK says:

      No. Because they’ve been trying to make this happen for the last couple of years.

    • McGee says:

      “There is talk” but it’s baloney.

  5. Lolo86lf says:

    This is terrible for the Chinese. How else are they going to make tons of money and spy on Americans at the same time? Sell or get banned, that’s it.

  6. smegmoria says:

    We’re all acting like VPN doesn’t exist.

    • Fifty-50 says:

      China is extremely far behind the AI arms race, and the Chinese government is using TikTok’s data and videos to build its AI. That’s not something a VPN can prevent, and it’s not the kind of data any money can buy.

      If China wants to make deepfake videos of you as blackmail, they’ll be able to if this continues.

    • Cee says:

      I use different VPNs when in China as it is the only way for me to access my apps but they are terrible. TERRIBLE.

      I honestly just think “Free Google” in a loop whenever I have to go to China for work.

  7. Concern Fae says:

    The security threat is real, but what we actually need is the sort of data privacy rules that the rest of the world already has.

  8. Sunday says:

    TikTok isn’t anymore dangerous or malicious than any other social media network or website from a malware standpoint, it’s just quickly become the most effective way for people (especially young people) to discuss current events and organize. That’s the problem here.

    If the US truly cared about privacy and security and safety then surely water and land rights would be a better place to start than TikTok – why is it okay to sell our actual resources and country and utilities and real estate to foreign states but not use an app?

    Elon didn’t actually buy Twitter, he’s the chaotic Trump-ian frontman for a group of buyers that includes the Saudi government. But that’s totally fine, they didn’t literally do 9/11 or anything! And totally unrelated to anything else of course, but did you know that if you use “anyone with think link can view” to share something w/Google, they’ve crawled your content and sold it. Do you know how many malicious results show up in Google Search nowadays? But TikTok is the biggest problem. This is a joke, this isn’t to protect us.

    • Kitten says:

      Alllll of this. TikTok is just their chosen Boogeyman.

    • Mireille says:

      I love how people buy up the garbage nonsense about the dangers of TikTok when Twitter (I refuse to call it X), Facebook (Or Meta or whatever its new name is), Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch have equally harmful content, equally harmful creators, and access to people’s info that they can SELL at any time — or worse yet, spy on people and provide access to outside agencies. Guess what folks? So does Google, Amazon, and any other app that you willingly give your info to and engage with their product. All these apps are problematic in some form.

      • Kitten says:

        Right, the privacy issues are applicable to all those platforms as well yet no banning. And people talk about TikTok “hurting the chidrenz” as if Facebook itself isn’t one of the largest bastions of misinformation and manipulation out there. It’s why the Boomers are the way that they are FFS.

        This is why the banning feels nakedly political to me. I see that a lot of the comments pointing out why this is purely political have been moderated out so I’ll just leave it at that.

    • that girl says:

      THANK YOU! I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone reading this comment section. Worrying about evil China banning the internet. Sis, worry about your house. It’s on fire. Abortion bans, transition bans, surely gay marriage will follow. Whatever you think about China doesn’t matter when the USA is going on its way to become a fascist theocracy.

      • MichaelaCat says:

        Sis, seems you don’t realize how many of the USA’s problems, conspiracies, right wing thought and disunity have actively been pushed onto Americans by bad foreign actors.

  9. Fifty-50 says:

    My two cents:

    I agree that the situation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dire.

    Please vote for Biden anyway.

    Please do not say you’re not going to vote.

    This is EXACTLY how the 2016 election was lost and Trump became president. Russians found the perfect wedge issue and amplified it using social media. Back then it was Facebook. Now it’s TikTok. Hilary Clinton seemed a shoe-in for the presidency but she lost, thanks to social media manipulation and voter suppression.

    We face the same circumstances: Joe Biden seems like a shoe-in for reelection, but China has found a way to suppress the vote. The election of Trump directly benefits China because the Biden admin has an extremely aggressive sanctions program with respect to semiconductors and chips capable of handling the extreme processing load required for AI.

    You can disagree with Biden. You can support Palestine. You still need to vote for Biden.

  10. GoodWitchGlenda says:

    Unfortunately, our government is doing a very poor job of making the case to the American people of why the app is a national security risk. If it is indeed, they need to do much better and educating us all.

  11. Jessica says:

    From the beginning, I’ve been against the TikTok ban. I know a lot of people are against it because they think it’s making kids dumb, but honestly I LOVE my FYP. The algorithm is the best out there- I’m into every video that comes across (unlike when I’m scrolling insta). I’ll learn about a new archeological find, followed by bees, followed by books, followed by politics, followed by a joke, followed by cooking, etc etc etc. They’re using TikTok as the Big Bad so that they don’t have to deal with the American companies (Twitter, Meta) that have clearly caused more harm by influencing the 2016 election. And I don’t understand the horror over data being gathered- the government is literally listening through our phones, Alexa, the cameras on every corner and streetlight- why is the data that I watched a thirty second video about bees a bigger deal?

  12. Liv says:

    I’m very sad to see the comments here failing to recognize how troublesome the ban is. First of all, it is used for so much more than cat videos. While social media in general can be problematic, it can also be useful, particularly TikTok. It’s algorithm is so advanced that it truly does have the ability to connect people in a way that would otherwise be impossible. It offers users insight into things they would otherwise never thought about (for example, what it’s like to live as a blind person). It has been a support network that helps people in abusive situations find safety. It has helped millions of small businesses. And while the superficiality of a place like instagram exists there, for the most part, TikTok is real people, their real lives and their real voices. It is also a place to share news that mainstream media doesn’t. This is why I believe they want a ban—for the first time, there is a platform where people are actually connecting, communicating, mobilizing and organizing. It could be where a revolution truly takes root and begins to make change in this country. The powers that be are threatened by that, the ban is an attempt to control information and shutdown a looming revolution. As far as security concerns go, the Chinese gov doesn’t own TT, it’s owned by a private Chinese company and investors, some American, and the CEO is Singaporean. Any data China wants, they can purchase from Facebook or Google. Which they have. Our biggest security threats are our own American companies. So to jump on the “Ban TikTok!” bandwagon is ill informed and dangerous. Not to mention a violation of our constitutional free speech. TikTok is powerful, it gives power to the people. And our politicians don’t like that.

    • Kitten says:

      I’m not even a TikTok user but my husband loves it and the videos he shares with me are so much smarter and more socially-aware than most of the junk I see on IG. Also, the platform seems much more conducive than others in terms of movement-building, probably because videos are far more engaging and immersive than a 300 word tweet or whatever. It’s that visual and audio aspect and the the general creativity that’s powerful. Such shame that folks are demonizing it because simply because government has chosen to

    • that girl says:

      “As far as security concerns go, the Chinese gov doesn’t own TT, it’s owned by a private Chinese company and investors, some American, and the CEO is Singaporean. Any data China wants, they can purchase from Facebook or Google. Which they have. Our biggest security threats are our own American companies. ”


    • Anna M says:

      @Liv, ditto that! The government does doesn’t like the fact that they have no control over TikTok or what props post there, it has shown some news items that the media ignored thus the crackdown and shutdown of the App.

  13. Dani D says:

    Alot of people make money from TikTok. AI is taking over many jobs and TikTok allows many people the ability to still make money without a degree. I also feel like the US cannot “make” someone sell their company to a US company. So the owners of Tiktok are just supposed to sell their company and all profits they are receiving will now go to a US owned business. Whoever owns Tiktok is paid in full!! It sounds like the US wants that Tiktok money. Just wow! Like China can’t spy on us without Tiktok!!

  14. McGee says:

    I’m sorry to see that so many don’t understand well enough the arena Chinese Tik Tok operates in, and the threat it creates. I already struggle against the tide with my sons and the intentional seeding and recruitment of young males into toxic masculinity lines of thought, and friends who don’t see how white supremacy is likewise being seeded — so I know it’s pointless to speak here. I …have very little hope for us left.

  15. Wryly amused says:

    I listened to an online discussion about this from some retired intelligence officers. Their take is that the CIA has a strong role in other social media platforms in the US, but not TikTok. It was their opinion that the issue isn’t China spying on Americans, but the lack of ability of the US government to spy on Americans that is driving this sale.

  16. Anna M says:

    I feel like this ban is more about control by the gov than security. Tik tok lets people talk about anything and everything while other platforms censor and control what people say. Like someone else said, TikTok amplify voices that would rather be unheard of, muted, drowned out or silenced.

  17. Serena says:

    I feel like this ‘national Security’ threat is just an excuse the government is feeding people because they are scared of its power. Tiktok is hugely popular, I’m sure it must bother many people -especially because it’s chinese and they can not control it.

    Don’t be fooled people. Also, what privacy? If you have internet and and social media you literally signed that off.