A new report suggests that social media giants TikTok and Twitter may join forces in the United States. The rumor comes just days after President Trump announced that the China-based TikTok would have 45 days to negotiate a merger or acquisition agreement with an American company to avoid sanctions.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, TikTok and Twitter are discussing a possible merger that would protect TikTok from sanctions in the United States. Prior to the report, Microsoft was considered to be the American company that was most likely to merge with TikTok, with many experts saying Microsoft is still the leading contender.
According to the Journal, “Because it is much smaller, Twitter has reasoned that it would be unlikely to face the same level of antitrust scrutiny as Microsoft or other potential bidders, said people familiar with the discussions.” The report also claims that Twitter will likely require a partner to fund the merger activity. The company recently disclosed to investors that it could face a fine of up to $250 million from FTC for misuse of private user info for advertising purposes.
Some privacy analysts had expressed concern that TikTok fails to protect the private user data of its American users from prying communist party eyes. In response to the concerns, President Trump announced plans to ban TikTok from the United States outright.
“We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok, we may be doing some other things, there are a couple of options,” Trump said on July 31. “A lot of things are happening so we’ll see what happens. We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok. President Trump ultimately decided that he would give TikTok 45 days to merge with an American company.
In a blog post published on August 2, Microsoft announced that it had entered preliminary discussions with TikTok and its parent company.
“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020. During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President,” Microsoft wrote in the post.
To quell data privacy concerns, Microsoft also claimed that they would work to ensure that all of TikTok’s data for American users would remain in the United States.
“Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States,” the post continues. “To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”
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