ByteDance says it has no plans to sell TikTok and refuses to bow to US pressure

ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, stated that it “doesn’t have any plans to sell TikTok” on Toutiao, a social media platform that it also happens to own. This follows Joe Biden signing legislation that says ByteDance must sell TikTok within a year or it will be banned from the USA.

TikTok now has over 170 million users in the USA, roughly half its population, potentially giving China’s government access to their data. Data it could then use to sway what people see on their feeds and potentially feeding China-biased propaganda.

Indeed, according to the Pew Research Center, it’s where more young adults (18 to 29) get their news from than any other service.

ByteDance stance on ban

According to a BBC translation, ByteDance’s statement on Toutaio said, “Foreign media reports of ByteDance selling TikTok are not true,” before adding the screenshot below:

ByteDance Tiktok ban - ByteDance refutes this
The symbol above is translates as “false rumour” (Source: BBC News)

Shou Zi Chew, the CEO of TikTok, posted a similarly defiant video earlier this week. “We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts,” he said, according to the BBC.

“The facts, and the Constitution, are on our side… rest assured, we aren’t going anywhere.”

And it has good reason for this belief, having fought off a proposed ban in 2020.

Related: What’s behind TikTok’s work trends? Burnout and low pay

What experts say about TikTok ban

“My thoughts are that the app should be banned in America,” said Steven McKeon, Founder of MacguyverTech in a statement. “I believe that application was purposely sent from China to corrode American youth.”

He added: “I have direct experience with a client here in America who was hacked. TikTok was aggressively copying data from the app and then sending it directly to China. We saw in real-time how the TikTok app was being used and very maliciously.”

However, ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks, was more critical of the legislation.

“Of course, the fact TikTok is owned by a China-based company is problematic and carries many data security concerns,” he said. “However, the app is hugely popular with younger people on both sides of the Pond and has become a vital source of revenue for beleaguered smaller retailers in the US and the UK.”

He added: “Many of Britain’s youngest and most progressive online retailers are using the platform to communicate directly with their customers and use short-form videos and creator content to promote their products, from personal care and tech to clothing and fashion.”

And a ban would not be popular with younger users. “TikTok has 170 million US users and well over 23 million here in the UK. Over 40% of UK TikTok users are aged 18-24 years old. For businesses, this means that TikTok is an excellent opportunity to attract younger customers.”

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.