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TikTok owners eye US spin-off in race to beat possible Trump ban

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Denial: TikTok has pushed back on suggestions it was harvesting data from US users

Denial: TikTok has pushed back on suggestions it was harvesting data from US users

REUTERS

Denial: TikTok has pushed back on suggestions it was harvesting data from US users

The Chinese owner of social media giant TikTok would prefer to spin-off the video-sharing app than sell it to Microsoft, the 'South China Morning Post' (SCMP) reported yesterday, citing a person familiar with the deal.

ByteDance is racing to find a way to continue to operate in the US after US President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to ban the app, citing concerns over privacy and data.

Microsoft was said to be in talks to buy TikTok, but Dow Jones reported on Saturday that those negotiations were on hold.

According to the SCMP, TikTok's owners would prefer to create an independent company rather than sell to a US company.

Almost everyone involved favours a TikTok spin-off, the SCMP reported, with only ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming unsure.

"But even for Zhang himself, there's really no other option because the app will be killed if you don't let it go," the SCMP cited the personal familiar as saying.

China's ByteDance is prepared to sell 100pc of TikTok's US operations as a way to head off the proposed ban.

On Saturday, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's US general manager, released a video statement thanking users for their support and saying the company "isn't going anywhere". "We're here for the long run," Pappas said, noting that the company plans to add 10,000 US jobs to its 1,500 workforce over the next three years.

She also said TikTok was "building the safest app because we know it's the right thing to do".

In a statement on Saturday, a TikTok spokesperson pushed back on suggestions it was harvesting data from US users.

"TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok's biggest investors come from the US," the spokesperson said. "We are committed to protecting our users' privacy and safety."

Bloomberg