Even as TikTok’s Chinese owners publicly resist pressure from the Biden administration to sell the wildly popular video app, conversations between TikTok and potential buyers are heating up, sources told On The Money.
TikTok is mulling over its options and exploring possible deals it considered when President Trump had threatened to ban the app in 2020, a source close to TikTok told On The Money.
The source wasn’t able to elaborate further, but talks orchestrated by the Trump administration had included a proposal for Oracle — the software giant owned by billionaire Larry Ellison — to partner with Walmart to own a US TikTok subsidiary, taking control of US user data and content moderation.
The talks come as politicians from across the political spectrum – including the progressive flank of the Democratic Party – are calling for a forced divestiture of TikTok from its Beijing-based parent, ByteDance.
Earlier this week, Revolving Door Project, a left-leaning advocacy group, sent a letter to top Democratic senators urging a probe of JPMorgan Chase’s ties to TikTok.
The letter – sent to Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who chair the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Finance; and Judiciary respectively – called out the nation’s largest bank for actively partnering with TikTok to create payment systems for the app.
“At a time when TikTok’s harm to consumers and national security has led to increased scrutiny it is egregious that JPMorgan Chase is working to bolster the company’s payments infrastructures,” the letter stated.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify in front of House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday, March 23 about the company’s ties to China.
In recent weeks, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said he will introduce a bipartisan bill this week that would grant the government authority to “ban or prohibit” foreign technology like the China-owned app TikTok.
“They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe, but what worries me more with TikTok is that this can be a propaganda tool,” Warner said.
Warner’s announcement comes on the heels of a concerted effort by Congress to crack down on TikTok.
The short-form video app is used by more than 100 million Americans — the majority of whom are under 30.
Earlier this month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill that gives President Biden the authority to ban foreign technologies including TikTok.
Also this month, the White House ordered government agencies to remove TikTok from all federal devices in the next 30 days.
Tensions with Beijing flared up last month after the US shot down a Chinese balloon that was reportedly spying on the US.
ByteDance and the Biden administration didn’t respond to requests for comment.