Microsoft to purchase TikTok
By Johnson Mwangangi
American tech company, Microsoft is in discussions to acquire popular social media app Tiktok in the US market even as government concerns grow over the privacy features of the app not being to the desired standards.
The app has been in the lime light over privacy concerns regarding data collected by the app on its users worldwide, with some countries going to the extent of banning the app, the most notable of which is the threats of being banned from the USA, where Tiktok has a massive user base.
In light of all this, Microsoft has seen an opportunity and is seeking to maximize on it. In a statement on its corporate blog, Microsoft says it will continue discussions on a potential TikTok purchase in the USA, as it seeks to involve other “American investors” to participate on a minority basis.
Tiktok has in recent times gained popularity in Kenya with its users, not only limited to the youth, but also adults who are enjoying the services, filters and Challenges. It’s been deemed as a possible source of instant fame, with a recent example being the rise to stardom by an avid Tiktok user, Azziad Nasenya, whose videos on the app garnered numerous shares and likes leading to multiple doors being opened to her career wise.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella while communicating with President Donald Trump, who has been vocal on security concerns with Tiktok, said that Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a potential purchase of TikTok in the United States. In a statement to the media, the company said that, “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”
Microsoft says that in any case their discussions about acquisition from ByteDance would be complete no later than September 15th, 2020 and that it is keeping discussions ongoing with the President and the U.S. government.
The purchase would cover TikTok operations in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating it in those markets. One region not mentioned here is India, which could provide an interesting future opportunity for both companies if this deal goes down. If Microsoft can position itself as a steward of TikTok it removes the data issue (if not the over-arching national tensions between China and India).
Unsurprisingly, data and privacy protections make an appearance, with Microsoft assuring that “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.”
Further Microsoft assured the USA that, “Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.”
Other market skeptics claim that Microsoft is pursuing TikTok because ByteDance needs to divest it in order to keep it running in the USA, one of its biggest markets. That need arose when the White House decided that it was important to make a stink about data sovereignty with relation to the China-owned network. Even though social networking sites of many kinds including Facebook, Twitter, Google (all of which are banned in China already) and others offer aggregate data through advertising brokerages that can make deals globally. They claim that, the opportunity presented itself to run up the anti-China flag and take aim at an easy target — an app that undoubtedly has access to an enormous amount of behavioral data on U.S. citizens and therefore has genuine data privacy concerns.