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TikTok Ban: ByteDance Denies Report That It’s Considering Selling App

ByteDance said a report that it’s mulling the sale of a majority stake in TikTok’s American business — after the U.S. adopted a law forcing it to divest its ownership position or face a ban of the app — is “untrue.”

The Chinese internet giant was responding to a report Thursday by tech-news site The Information, citing anonymous sources, that ByteDance “is internally exploring scenarios for selling a majority stake in TikTok’s U.S. business, preferably to companies outside the tech industry, and without the algorithm that recommends videos to TikTok users.” ByteDance posted its denial of the report on the ByteDance-owned Toutiao news platform in China, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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TikTok says it plans to file a lawsuit challenging the new U.S. law on First Amendment grounds. If that fails, the app could become outlawed in the U.S. as early as January 2025.

SEE ALSO: Will TikTok Be Banned in the U.S.? What the New Law Means for the App’s Users

Under the new law, which was fast-tracked through Congress, unless ByteDance sells its stake in TikTok by April 2025 at the latest to owners based in a country that the U.S. does not consider a “foreign adversary,” the popular video app will be illegal to distribute in the U.S. The legislation was signed into law by President Biden on April 24 as part of a package of emergency foreign aid.

If ByteDance were to entertain the idea of selling off TikTok, it would be a very expensive transaction. In the U.S. alone, the app generated $16 billion in revenue in 2023, valuing the business at up to $150 billion, per a Financial Times report.

At a contentious House committee hearing last year, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew asserted that forcing ByteDance to divest its ownership stake in the app would not change how TikTok operates. “A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” he said. “All global companies face common challenges that need to be addressed through safeguards and transparency.”

U.S. lawmakers have voiced strong concerns that TikTok represents a national security threat, suggesting ByteDance is under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party and could “weaponize” TikTok to spy on Americans. TikTok has repeatedly claimed the Chinese government has never made demands to access the app’s user data. In addition, it says 60% of ByteDance’s ownership is represented by “global institutional investors” including Blackrock, General Atlantic and Susquehanna International Group. Another 20% is owned by ByteDance’s founders and the remaining 20% is owned by its employees (including more than 7,000 Americans), according to TikTok.

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