back to article ByteDance 'would rather' torpedo TikTok than sell it off

Between shutting down or selling TikTok, owner ByteDance would prefer doing the former. This according to Reuters, which cites four sources. ByteDance's worst-case-scenario decision comes after President Joe Biden signed a bill forcing TikTok's Chinese parent to either sell the social media platform to an entity that satisfies …

  1. claimed Silver badge

    The other way of saying that is 5% of the user base generates 25% of revenue. Pretty good market if you ask me.

    We shall see; pass the popcorn!

    1. Robin Bradshaw

      They will make even more money once they launch the ByteDance VPN so the colonials can still access the cool content

      1. sebacoustic

        bytedance VPN

        now there's something that would *really* worry me: a VPN under control company beholden to please the CCP rulers.

        As an aside: accessing TikTok via VPN isn't really an option as the *app* will be banned from Apple's and Google's stores. On Android you _can_ still install stuff from other app stores but it's likely not enough to wean american teens off their iAddiction.

        1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

          Re: bytedance VPN

          As an aside: accessing TikTok via VPN isn't really an option as the *app* will be banned from Apple's and Google's stores.

          Last time I tried, it was possible to access TikTok content via a Web Browser. (Old-school, I know)

        2. VicMortimer Silver badge

          Re: bytedance VPN

          Won't matter. Web app would be easier.

          I mean, the ban is unconstitutional anyway, so it's not actually going to happen. But it would be incredibly easy for them to work around it, it's not like web sites get blocked in the US. I mean, thepiratebay.org still works here, you don't even have to use a proxy site.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "They will make even more money once they launch the ByteDance VPN so the colonials can still access the cool content"

        They could also secretly start sponsoring all sorts of proxy pages in yet another game of Whack-a-Mole.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Indeed. If I were in charge of a global market where a single entity provided a quarter of my earnings, I'd think twice before shutting the operation down for that entity.

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      A pretty big *only* ;)

      《the US only provides a quarter of TikTok's global revenue,》

      I would not mind even 1% of an "only" like that. A nice little earner as Arthur Daley might have said.

      If the residual 75% of revenue is generated by the 95% who are non-US tiktok users, I would guess the vast majority of such users aren't generating revenue at all (the opposite.)

      I wonder how many of those tiktok users that do generate revenue (having some disposable income) do so under the influence of the illusion of a first world lifestyle portrayed by the US tiktok users? A dilemma there. :)

    4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Irony

      The irony of Shou Zi Chew using US Rule of Law against the US government from his base in a country devoid of it, is priceless.

      1. andy the pessimist

        Re: Irony

        He is a Singapore citizen living in Singapore.

        1. Zolko Silver badge

          Re: Irony

          @andy : please don't come with facts, it could indispose some readers. Let's stay with the basics : China=bad, USA=good

  2. markrand
    Unhappy

    Time for the EU+UK to demand that Gurgle and Bookfart sell their operations...

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Or better yet, torpedo them too.

      1. el_oscuro

        As someone on the other side of the pond, I 100% agree.

  3. Phiphi in SoCal

    Empty threat.

    Just posturing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Empty threat.

      Oh I don't know. It must be great fun to loudly demonstrate resistance to a government, without fear of being disappeared.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Empty threat.

      I hope they follow through with it nonetheless

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Empty threat.

        As long as they're consistent about it but I suspect it's just the usual dangerous mix of isolatianism and an attempt to abuse law via unproven allegations (or attempts at diverting the attention from the questionable activities of their own companies, take your pick) to try and grab a slice of the profits.

        Plus ça change, plus c'st la même merde (slightly reality adjusted French saying :) )

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Empty threat.

          The "Data Security Law of the People’s Republic of China" requires all Chinese companies give unfettered access to the CCP. (Chapter 1, Articles 1 & 2) “数据开发利用” is translated as “data development and use.” The term “development” carries the sense of developing or exploiting a natural resource, and some people translate it as “data exploitation and use.”

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Empty threat.

            `so that's a bit like UK's Investigative Powers Act or the US Cloud Act, just with a bit more legal pretense?

            Just curious.

            That said, sorry, but if you're genuinely worried about privacy you would not use social media at all.

    3. sanmigueelbeer
      Coat

      Re: Empty threat.

      Just posturing.

      Bend forward or backward kind of "posturing"?

    4. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Re: Empty threat.

      I agree. They'll probably sell at the last minute to some fella in a non-Western country. Burma or Vietnam perhaps? Or Russia?

      Of course they risk the company becoming worthless if it's banned regardless, which may very well be the case if Uncle Sam is displeased.

      I guess the real question is whether the EU will follow through on this and push for a divestiture too. I'm pretty sure that losing Europe too would severely impact ByteDance's financials. I'm not sure it would sink the company (China is large enough to support it) but it's hopes of dominating the world would be foundered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Empty threat.

        Sell to North Korea or another puppet of China ...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    This is the best possible outcome

    Not going to be any tears here. Just sayin'

    The amount of stolen YouTube videos being passed off as their content was just gobsmacking.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: This is the best possible outcome

      The amount of stolen videos on YouTube is also gobsmacking.

    2. Randy Hudson

      Re: This is the best possible outcome

      Most YouTube shorts are captures of TikTok

  5. Someone Else Silver badge

    Too bad they're waiting until after the election. The corresponding uptick in the nation's IQ were Tiktok to be shut down would be helpful in this election cycle.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      If the closure of TikTok would cause an uptick, just think what closing the network formerly known as Twitter down would do; a hockey stick style of change?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No because so few people use Twaddle.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't think the downwards angle of that IQ curve is fixable - it would simply give them more time to complain about other self inflicted problems.

      This is what you get when you destroy an educational system - it may help some politicians but you put a nation on a downwards spiral into abject stupidity.

  6. Roland6 Silver badge

    “ The law says ByteDance must divest itself of TikTok by January 19, 2024”

    “ The fact that the deadline to sell isn't even a year from now”

    Today is the 25-April-2024, the deadline is in the past; or this another example of the lowering of editorial standards at ElReg.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: “ The law says ByteDance must divest itself of TikTok by January 19, 2024”

      Article corrected to 2025. :))

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: “ The law says ByteDance must divest itself of TikTok by January 19, 2024”

      I'd say it's evidence of a lowering standard in commenting that this didn't resulted in a quick email to corrections@ instead.

      But hey, let's complain instead of helping out.

      The people who write these articles is are still mostly human as far as I know*

      * essential caveat :)

  7. Zibob Bronze badge

    I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

    Another win for the world police.

    "We can't allow them to have this kind of power" they say as they issue a mafia style *pay up or leave town*. The hypocrisy.

    With idiocy like this in charge we truly are fucked as a species.

    I am well tired of this blood from a stone crap, either just declare war on China already or bend over for a good pinging. The longer this fucking around back and forward carries on the worse the average people lose out. Just have it out already, maybe the average person will benefit from the crossfire.

    1. Dostoevsky

      Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

      > ...just declare war on China already...

      Am I the only one who thinks that we should avoid that if possible? The "average people" will start losing their lives if the USA and PRC throw down in the WestPac.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

        Without change in China's leadership it is not possible to avoid, Xi Jinping is very much a shoot the messenger type of person. He had his old mentor dragged out of the CCP's annual conference live on television recently. He has committed China to a path of going to war to capture Taiwan and nobody is willing to tell him that this is a bad idea.

        1. ExpatZ

          Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

          Well put CIA mouthhpiece.

          Not buying a word of mind you just acknowledging your effort at FUD.

          1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

            Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

            Ad hominem and devoid of either fact or opinion. More likely to be a mouthpiece than the OP.

          2. Casca Silver badge

            Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

            Sure muppet

        2. systemBuilder22

          Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

          Xi Jinping changed the term-limit laws in 2017 so he could be dictator for life!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

            As copied from my notes of importance file:

            > A revision to a clause concerning the Chinese President and Vice President's

            terms of office was also incorporated. "It is a key measure to improve the

            state leadership system," Shen told the conference.

            http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/11/c_137032165.htm

            Simply put, our only hope is that China's build up to being ready for war takes so long that they suddenly discover they don't have enough citizens of army age to throw into the fight.

            Deleterious demographics defending democracy?

          2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

            How is that any different to America, the only difference is americans worship Ceos who rule their lives.

        3. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

          Xi is many things but he has not committed China to any war. The chinese like fake everything they will not be invading Taiwan for a long time, they know their equipment is all show and basically garbage, after all half of it is produced under license from Russia. Nobody has had their investment shown to be utter garbage as much as the chinese by the Ukraine invasion.

          The chinese are very patiented they waited a long time for HK and 500 years for Macau and they will wait for Taiwan rather than losing face.

      2. Casca Silver badge

        Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

        Oh, Zibob is safe in his mothers basement.

        1. Zibob Bronze badge

          Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

          I wish, we don't even have basements in our country generally. So try again

          Simple observations from watching the world play out, over and over.

      3. Zibob Bronze badge

        Re: I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords

        That's exactly my thinking. I don't see humanity changing its course without the demonstration that the course they are on leads to millions dead.

        Its horrific, but it is very clearly their endpoint. They keep poking each other. Goading each other into more aggressive stances.

        We can have no certainty about our own countries governance as long as our own governments are more concerned about the goings 9n in other countries.

        Just just get it over with. We are on the slide down the slope to it, with no brakes or reverse gear to be seen. Politics is no l9nger about caring for your own people, its about fear of others. And its sad to see. I know where this ends, the world has been through it countless times.

        Fear, distrust, anger and then action... As predictable as the tides, and playing out in front of us but no one wants to do anything about it but make it worse.

  8. secondtimeuser

    "sell...or have its video-sharing app banned from US software stores"

    So offer the app as a direct download from its own website and let users sideload it? I assume there's some text in the bill that closes off this obvious loophole?

    1. Casca Silver badge

      Re: "sell...or have its video-sharing app banned from US software stores"

      Think of the poor apple users!

  9. Blackjack Silver badge

    Eh let's be honest Tik Tok will be banned in the USA but that won't kill the App.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Algorithm"

    Whereas You Tube either uses ML or outsources, often overseas, much of the human work, Tik Tok does it in China with domestic labor, at about 1/8 of the cost of US Labor, and with great attention to detail. Why? For starters, China has strong content regulation - i.e., it has to monitored for political slant. ML can't judge that, so it has to be humans. While doing that, those same workers can be moulding content to get the zippity-zip of compulsive, (admittedly shallow) flow which is Tik Tok's trademark. Tik Tok couldn't even sell that if they wanted to. No company in the US will be able to re create it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The Algorithm"

      > Tik Tok couldn't even sell that if they wanted to. No company in the US will be able to re create it.

      In that case, TikTok should put that description of their algorithm[1] into a very large & thick envelope, clearly labeled "Secret Algorithm, Buyer's Eyes Only", then sell it to as many US buyers as they can: easy money and no fear of being outperformed by the competition.

      [1] it is still an algorithm, no need for scare quotes, even if it isn't performed by a computer

      1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Re: "The Algorithm"

        There is no magic algorithm in TT or G. They didnt win because they are better, they just got lucky. There is nothing technologically super wonderful about TT or FB or G.

  11. Duncan Macdonald

    Mock Sale ?

    Could ByteDance set up a shell company (or chain of such companies) to "buy" Tik Tok while still effectively retaining ownership (and the income) thereby thumbing their noses at the US government?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mock Sale ?

      It would indeed make them more American, more from a behavioural perspective..

      :)

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Mock Sale ?

      "Could ByteDance set up a shell company (or chain of such companies) to "buy" Tik Tok while still effectively retaining ownership (and the income) thereby thumbing their noses at the US government?"

      Sure, why not. Set up in Mexico, I'm sure Mexico would love the tax revenue. Profits could be used to set up manufacturing of EV's for a Chinese parent with equity funneled back to ByteDance in the form of stock or as a straight loan. Continued profits could expand the footprint of the new manufacturing center as has been done in a couple of places in Mexico by Chinese investors already. It not only blurs the ownership, it takes advantage of North American trade agreements. These will be Mexican companies, they'd just have a lot of stock ownership out of China.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ByteDance have already done everything they need to

    "US only provides a quarter of TikTok's global revenue"? Why, we are the richest and most powerful country, we are more important than just a quarter of anyone's revenue! We got to keep TikTok and prove we can spend more on it than anyone else!

    1. el_oscuro

      Re: ByteDance have already done everything they need to

      Well we also managed to have a quarter of the worlds COVID deaths with only 5% of the population, thanks to Trump and the GOP.

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: ByteDance have already done everything they need to

        Yeah, it's good thing Biden started Operation Warp Speed and got those vaccines developed, eh?

        Oh wait, Trump did that, didn't he? If you recieved a vaccine, make sure to thank Trump for it!

        I wonder how far and fast it wouldn't have spread had Congressional Democrats not sued every time Trump tried to close the borders, calling it racist, just to turn around and say that if Trump had closed the borders at the outset we wouldn't have been hit so hard?

        Go on, thumb me down you leftists bastards, you know you want to!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ByteDance have already done everything they need to

          > Yeah, it's good thing Biden started Operation Warp Speed and got those vaccines developed, eh?

          Huh? Biden in power 2021, vaccines arrive in 2020, so - sneer at Biden for not being in office early enough? Hey, Trump wasn't in office to win the battle at Midway, guess we can sneer at him for that!

          > If you recieved a vaccine, make sure to thank Trump for it!

          Nah, would rather thank all the people who, you know, actually worked to figure it out, make it, stick the needles in people.

          It doesn't matter one teeny, tiny, little bit whose ass was warming the oval office chair, they were not the ones doing any of the work on the vaccine. Hey, guess what, it wasn't even all done in the US.

        2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: ByteDance have already done everything they need to

          Yeh keep on dreaming that rich people are your friend.. becaue we all know Trump got rich by giving away all his money and helping everybody he sees.. oh wait ...

        3. Casca Silver badge

          Re: ByteDance have already done everything they need to

          Poor little MAGA moron. Your really should change your name and not sully the Lipvig name.

  13. sarusa Silver badge
    Devil

    And that's just great?

    Sounds good to me, I'd rather have it torpedoed than sold and keep operating. (Of course outside of the US it will keep operating as normal, this could be where teens suddenly become interested in VPNs for the first time).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And that's just great?

      USA productivity will probably grow at 3% for the next few years now that tick tock is gone!

  14. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    What is ByteDance whinging about? China blocks companies from doing business there all the time. What's good the goose is good for the gander, so suck it up, cupcake!

    1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      WHAT makes you think leaders are no hypcocrites ?

  15. streaky

    shutdown -h now

    Please don't shut down TikTok, how will civilisation survive?

    Funny when China gets played at its own game it doesn't like it, isn't it?

    1. Casca Silver badge

      Re: shutdown -h now

      Its the normal whine from dictatorships.

  16. LenG

    The 21st Century Peace through Strength Act

    That realluy sounds like something out of "1984"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The 21st Century Peace through Strength Act

      Naah, it's 'Peace through superior firepower' redefined.

  17. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Its amazing that sinply because TikTok is chinese its evil but when Google or FB do exactly the same things in terms of spying on users, they are fine...

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      No, it's evil regardless of who does it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the clock ticking?

    Shut it down, burn the servers, throw away the keys.

    Nothing of value will be lost.

  19. Tubz Silver badge

    If TT gets shutdown, we should balance the books and shutdown FB too, unfair to only target Asian privacy invaders, we should target western ones too.

    1. krakead

      Or, as C3PO said, "No, shut them all down!"

      1. PhoenixKebab
        Terminator

        But C3PO was referring to trash compactors, while social media is all about trash expansion.

  20. jospanner

    Social Media :)

    Social Media (Chinese) >:(

  21. Usage Lapsed
    Facepalm

    Do not do unto others, what you do not want others to do unto you

    So... the US is happy to have the CLOUD Act and use data on other peoples shores, but when another country has the possibility of doing it... BanHammer Time.

    WE should make Microsoft etc. start divesting so we can avoid the CLOUD

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Do not do unto others, what you do not want others to do unto you

      Well... we should do that anyway (avoid the cloud).

      But no, this is about the US doing to a Chinese company, which the CCP does to all foreign companies in China. Must have Chinese presence, Chinese ownership, or not China biz for you. The ones that say "no" get banned e.g. Facebook. Not that Chinese citizens are losing out from a Facebook ban, but it's the exact same thing as the US has just done to TT.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    This may be the law's undoing

    The Washington Post has an article detailing the kinds of problems the Federal government would have in trying to force the sale. Its worth reading to get a bit of a roadmap for the future. This is the third attempt to ban this application, the previous two (by the Trump administration and the state of Montana) failed in the courts. The new law is written to try and avoid the legal pitfalls of the other two but its still on very dicey ground (because much as our legislators might like it to be so just because they say 'jump' doesn't necessarily mean everyone has to stop what they're doing and leap into the air).

    It also remarks at the end that one reason for delaying its implementation till after the election is that politicians are using it. That includes Joe Biden's campaign.

  23. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Shut it down!

    Let them shut it down and see hundreds of billions of dollars of stock valuation go up in smoke!

    What really bothers me is that Chinese companies can expect a fair trial in our courts whilst our companies have no such luxury in China. I propose we limit the rights of companies which are located in countries where democracy is non-existent or deficient.

    I do wonder if the EU will have the GUTS to pull something like this. Me thinks not.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Shut it down!

      What really bothers me is that Chinese companies can expect a fair trial in our courts whilst our companies have no such luxury in China.

      They ALSO expect the USA to honor their patents and other intellectual property, while REGULARLY violating our patents etc. for "Domestic Only" distribution.

      I understand TickTickBOOM has some built in video editing tools that are covered by SOFTWARE PATENTS. Let's just violate them with a U.S. developed competing product and be done with it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shut it down!

      > I propose we limit the rights of companies which are located in countries where democracy is non-existent or deficient.

      Yeah! Let's lower ourselves to their level! That'll show them not to mess with us!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >>> "There is a fear stateside that China-based ByteDance could be forced by Middle Kingdom mandarins to manipulate TikTok, one of the biggest social media platforms in the United States, to spread misinformation or snoop on Americans. " <<<

    So, when the ban on Truth Social, ONN, Fox, Newsmax... ?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because of spying and blackmail ..

    Its because the whole point of Tiktok is to facilitate spying and blackmail. If they can't use it for that then its worthless to them ... They will just buy or build another platform for spying and blackmail. They did it once before by purchasing grindr ..

  26. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Quick, see what Joe is saying

    It's doesn't appear that President Biden is going to cancel his account even after signing the ban. After all, there's a campaign to spin.

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