Microsoft announced on Sunday that it would continue talks to acquire the popular TikTok video-sharing app from the U.S. after meeting with President Donald Trump, who apparently backed up his earlier threats to ban the Chinese-owned platform.
“After a meeting between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J Trump, Microsoft is ready to start negotiations to pursue TikTok ‘s purchase in the United States,” the company said in a statement, noting the “importance of resolving the President ‘s concerns” about national security.
Microsoft added that it will continue talks with ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, with the goal of “completing these discussions by September 15 at the latest”
The announcement came after Trump said Friday that he would ban the app, which is overwhelmingly popular with young audiences who produce and watch its short-form videos and has an estimated one billion users around the world.
TikTok should be sold or blocked in the US, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC earlier Sunday, while State Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Fox News that the president would “take action in the coming days regarding a wide range of national security risks presented by software connected to the Communist Party of China.”
TikTok denies that it might be a platform for Chinese intelligence, with its US general manager Vanessa Pappas announcing Saturday: “We don’t want to go anywhere.”
“The United States would be the biggest loser if it outlawed TikTok,” said Saturday Daniel Castro, the think tank’s vice president, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.
“All of its data centers are outside China, and there is no proof that they pose a threat to national security.”
Trump said he would use an executive order to suspend TikTok, or the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that gives the president powers to regulate international trade in the face of a “unusual and unprecedented danger” from abroad to US foreign policy, national security or the economy.
His threat has caused considerable concern for users of US TikTok, particularly content creators who make money on the site.
Most of them have posted links to their Instagram or YouTube accounts so they don’t lose followers if the site is blocked in the end.
Microsoft said in its statement that it plans to “build on the experience that TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security , privacy and digital security protections.”
Buying TikTok would provide a chance for Microsoft to break into the social networking market.
The IT group currently owns LinkedIn, a professional networking site, and Teams, an internal messaging service for businesses.
In addition to the 1,500 existing workers, Pappas vowed Saturday to build 10,000 US jobs at TikTok in the next three years.
“Don’t fall for this,” said Senior Trump assistant Peter Navarro, a fierce critic of China and a major architect of the Beijing trade war.
“China has recruited a whole lot of American lobbyists, placing the organization in charge of a puppet CEO,” he told Fox News, referring to former Disney executive Kevin Mayer, who became TikTok ‘s CEO in May.
Trump suggested on Friday evening that he opposed an American company’s purchase of TikTok, a compromise accepted by most of the parties involved, including ByteDance, according to The New York Times.
“It is getting insane. A 100 percent sale to an American corporation … would alleviate any fair data privacy issues,” tweeted Alex Stamos, a former Facebook security chief and a Stanford University researcher.
“When this (sale) is destroyed by the White House we know this is not about national security,” he said.