TikTok Parent ByteDance Won’t Sell Underlying Algorithm, China Paper Says

Daniel Fowler
September 14, 2020

ByteDance may not hand over the code used to build TikTok's algorithm as part of its sale to a USA buyer, a report claims, with the Chinese tech company apparently informing bidders and authorities in the U.S. about the change in stance.

The Trump administration's deadline for TikTok to find a buyer now just a week away; Charlie Gasparino reports.

A source of the South China Morning Post claims ByteDance "will not hand out source code to any United States buyer" for TikTok.

Microsoft said in a blog post that TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, said it would not sell to the tech giant.

Officials in the USA have criticized the app, which is immensely popular among younger millennials and Gen Z users, saying that TikTok collects too much user data and may be passing that data on American consumers back to the Chinese government. If President Trump rejects the "no algorithm" condition, making the divestment of TikTok impossible, the app could go dark for its users in America after the September 15 deadline.

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The company said it 'would have made significant changes to ensure the service met the highest standards for security, privacy, online safety, and combating disinformation'.

Walmart had joined Microsoft's bid for TikTok.

The decision by ByteDance to reject Microsoft's proposal makes Oracle the main potential TikTok buyer. His executive order formalizing the ban threat was issued two days later.

ByteDance and Oracle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China, in its turn, supported TikTok's move to "take up legal weapons to defend their rightful interests", while having repeatedly denied any dependence of the app on Beijing.

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