Amid threats that TikTok could soon be banned in the US because of its Chinese ownership, Microsoft has entered into negotiations to purchase the popular video sharing platform, according to the New York Times.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indiciated that the Trump Administration was considering banning TikTok, citing security and privacy concerns. On Friday, Trump himself confirmed as much, telling reporters that “We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok. We may be doing some other things. There’s a couple of options. But a lot of things are happening, so we’ll see what happens. But we are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.” One possible option under consideration, according to Bloomberg, is to force TikTok to sell off its US operations.
The video sharing platform is estimated to have upwards of 65 million active users in the US and consistently ranks as among the most downloaded apps on Apple’s App Store. However, US government officials have expressed concerns over the amount of data collected by TikTok compared to other prominent social media platforms, especially given that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company. In late 2019, the US military banned its personnel from using the app on government-issued devices.
As the coronavirus pandemic has worsened tensions between the US and China, there have been renewed calls by some US officials to limit the availability of Chinese apps including TikTok. One would assume that Trump himself also didn’t take kindly to TikTok users sabotaging his recent rally in Tulsa.
TikTok recently sought to placate its critics by hiring Disney veteran Kevin Mayer as its new CEO. The platform also began storing its data in the US.
The future of TikTok is of particular interest to the music industry. Over the last year, the platform has emerged as fertile grounds for music discovery, with artists such as Lil Nas X, Beabadoobee, Ashnikko, and Benee owing their initial fame to TikTok virality. Given its massive, predominately younger-skewing audience, established musicians such as The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Lizzo, and even Prince’s estate have also sought to cultivate their own TikTok followings. All the while, major labels have zeroed in on the platform as a lucrative money-making opportunity and recently secured licensing deals.