President Trump is looking at ordering the sale of the US portion of TikTok, and Microsoft appears ready to step into the void. "We may be banning TikTok," Trump said Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports. A deal with Microsoft would bring Bytedance, the app's Chinese owner, tens of billions and beat at least one alternative—seeing TikTok pulled out of app stores. Users create short videos with the app, combining music and other effects, and post them. TikTok has been a hit during the pandemic as young people, especially, produce videos while stuck at home. It may not seem strategically logical for Microsoft to make the deal, Alex Sherman writes for CNBC, but TikTok is just starting to monetize its audience. At this point, Sherman says, anybody who can afford the acquisition should try to make it.
National security concerns are behind the administration's objections to the app's current ownership. US officials have worried that the data collected from American users could be passed through TikTok to the Chinese government. "We have never provided user data to the Chinese government," a TikTok spokesperson said, per the Washington Post, "nor would we do so if asked." TikTok has tried to head off a divestiture order by pointing out that it has hundreds of employees in the US—with more being added rapidly—and by hiring a former Disney executive as its chief executive. And it's hired more than 35 lobbyists, per the New York Times. The US also has considered less drastic moves against the app. (China represents the greatest long-term threat, FBI director said.)