Microsoft out of TikTok running as deadline looms

Microsoft has confirmed that it is out of the running for the acquisition of TikTok’s US operations.

A statement from the tech giant yesterday explained that the video sharing app’s Chinese parent company ByteDance had declined its offer.

“We are confident our proposal would have been good for TikTok’s users, while protecting national security interests – to do this, we would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combatting disinformation, and we made these principles clear in our August statement,” Microsoft stated.

Walmart, which had been participating in negotiations with Microsoft, is still in discussions with ByteDance leadership and other parties, according to Reuters.

The Washington Post reported that a consortium led by Oracle has been chosen as a “technology partner”, with the move being a restructuring rather than a sale, and Oracle handling TikTok’s US user data.

However, Chinese state media reported that ByteDance would not be selling TikTok’s US operations to Oracle.

The Chinese tech firm has been in talks over the future of TikTok’s US since president Donald Trump threatened last month to ban the service if it was not sold. His executive order gave US companies until 15 September to stop doing business with ByteDance, or it would be shut down in the US.

ByteDance will need approval for the deal from both Washington and Beijing, which recently implemented export controls on the kind of artificial intelligence technology behind TikTok’s algorithm. It is so far unclear whether the algorithm, considered its key asset, would be included in any sale.

The Chinese government reportedly opposes a forced sale of TikTok’s US operations and would prefer the company shut down.

Trump has claimed TikTok could be used by China to track the locations of federal employees, build dossiers for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage. The company responded that it has never provided any US user data to the Chinese government.

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