‘No Plans’ To Sell TikTok, ByteDance Insists

Chinese tech giant ByteDance has said it has no plans to sell TikTok after a new US law put it on a deadline to divest from the hugely popular video platform or have it banned in the United States.

US lawmakers set the nine-month deadline on national security grounds, alleging that TikTok can be used by the Chinese government for espionage and propaganda as long as it is owned by ByteDance.

The Information, a tech-focused US news site, reported that ByteDance was looking at scenarios for selling TikTok without the powerful secret algorithm that recommends videos to its more than one billion users around the world.

ByteDance denied it was considering a sale.

“Foreign media reports about ByteDance exploring the sale of TikTok are untrue,” the company posted Thursday on Toutiao, a Chinese-language platform it owns.

“ByteDance does not have any plans to sell TikTok.”

TikTok has been a political and diplomatic hot potato for years, first finding itself in the crosshairs of former president Donald Trump’s administration, which tried unsuccessfully to ban it.

It has forcefully denied any link to the Chinese government and said it has not and will not share US user data with Beijing.

TikTok says it has also spent around $1.5 billion on “Project Texas”, under which US user data would be stored in the United States.

Its critics say the data is only part of the problem, and that the TikTok recommendation algorithm — the “secret sauce” for its success — must also be disconnected from ByteDance.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has said the company will take the fight against the new law to the courts, but some experts believe that for the US Supreme Court, national security considerations could outweigh free speech protection.

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