Update: 8/1/2020, 1:41 p.m. ET: Per a Saturday Reuters report, TikTok’s parent company Bytedance has agreed to full transparency with the U.S. government and offered to divest its U.S. operations of TikTok completely if it’ll keep President Donald Trump from banning the app, according to two people familiar with the matter. Under this deal, Bytedance, which is based in Beijing, would make a clean break and give Microsoft full control over TikTok in the U.S.
The White House declined the outlet’s request for comment on whether it would accept this compromise. However, a source familiar with the matter later told Axios that Trump “has a deal on his desk” as of Saturday afternoon that would hand over 100% of TikTok’s U.S. operations to Microsoft.
Earlier: Trump said he plans to sign an executive order banning TikTok as soon as Saturday, according to several reporters he spoke with aboard Air Force One on Friday evening.
The popular music and dance app is one of many owned by Chinese companies that the Trump regime believes is funneling user data to the Chinese government, an allegation that has not been substantiated. Trump’s been threatening to ban TikTok for weeks now, but it’s anybody’s guess whether he decides to actually go through with it. That man says a lot of things…and some of his promises don’t last longer than the average TikTok.
Earlier on Friday, the New York Times reported that Microsoft is in talks to buy the app, purportedly valued at $100 billion, as federal scrutiny increases. A TikTok spokesperson told Gizmodo at the time that they “do not comment on rumors or speculation,” but are “confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
The app has already been banned in India, along with 58 other China-based apps, reportedly in retaliation to a deadly border conflict in the Himalayas rather than for the kind of espionage concerns Trump’s citing.
As for TikTok itself, the company said that they “aren’t planning on going anywhere” and are “here for the long run” in a video response to the president’s statements on Saturday.
“When it comes to safety and security, we’re building the safest app because we know it’s the right thing to do,” said TikTok’s U.S. general manager, Vanessa Pappas in the video.
She went on to thank users for their outpouring of support in the wake of the news (over the night, users flooded TikTok with montages of their favorite or most popular videos alongside pleas to keep the app from getting banned.) As of writing this, the video’s been viewed 2.5 million times in just three hours.
Pappas also gave a shoutout to TikTok’s U.S. employees, the 10,000 jobs the company plans to bring to the U.S. over the next three years, and its recently announced billion-dollar creator fund. In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, a TikTok spokesperson echoed these stats, reiterating once again that it’s distanced the app’s operations from Bytedance and stores all U.S. user data on servers within the U.S.
“We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform,” the spokesperson said.
You can read TikTok’s statement in full below:
“These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
This is a developing story. We will update this post as we get more information.