For the uninitiated, TikTok is a relatively new Chinese-based video sharing service that has proven extremely popular in the social media arena. Following its launch in China back in September 2016, TikTok, which allows users to create 15-second video clips, has amassed over 800 million monthly average users. The app has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times during its lifetime, making it the seventh-most downloaded app of the last decade.
However, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has come under regular fire over its data scraping practices, privacy concerns, and alleged association with the Chinese government. So much so that TikTok has already been banned in some countries with others threatening to follow suit. As TikTok has risen in popularity, the app has been increasingly put under the microscope over privacy and security concerns. The app has already been caught copying iOS clipboard contents, and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman pulled no punches while taking part in a panel discussion at the ”Social 2030” conference in San Francisco, calling it “fundamentally parasitic.”
In a recent announcement Microsoft has revealed that it is currently in negotiations to acquire TikTok services in certain countries saying that, following talks between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the U.S. Microsoft has confirmed it is pursuing a deal with ByteDance which involves the acquisition of TikTok services in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Under the new structure, Microsoft is proposing to add a layer of “world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections” to ensure transparency to users and security oversight by governments in these countries.
This new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections. The operating model for the service would be built to ensure transparency to users as well as appropriate security oversight by governments in these countries.
If the deal goes through, it will likely go a long way to alleviating western concerns over privacy and national security. TikTok has proven to be extremely popular, especially among the younger crowd and, while the majority utilize the service responsibly, hopefully, Microsoft’s acquisition will also see the sometimes obscene, immoral, and vulgar nature of these short video clips become a thing of the past. I say “if the deal goes through” advisedly because Microsoft makes it very clear in its announcement that, at this point in time, it is far from a done deal.
These discussions are preliminary and there can be no assurance that a transaction which involves Microsoft will proceed. We do not intend to provide further updates until there is a definitive outcome to our discussions.