Briefing

ByteDance won’t sell TikTok amid mounting U.S. scrutiny

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The Chinese social media company denied reports that it was considering selling a majority stake in its popular app to quash U.S. pressure over national security and privacy concerns. “I want to assure you that we have had no discussions with potential buyers of TikTok, nor do we have any intention to,” wrote TikTok head Alex Zhu in an internal company note seen by Reuters. (South China Morning Post, Reuters)

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Talking point: Bloomberg reported Monday that the company was considering selling a majority stake in TikTok to its investors, which include SoftBank and Sequoia Capital. The seventh-most downloaded app of the decade, it has come under increasing scrutiny; last month, Washington launched a national security review of ByteDance’s US$1-billion acquisition of the U.S. social media app Musical.ly, and on Saturday, the U.S. Navy banned the app from government-issued devices, saying it posed a cybersecurity threat. Zhu has previously told The New York Times he would refuse any request from Chinese President Xi Jinping to remove content from the platform or hand over user data. In response to the Post, a ByteDance spokesperson said rumours of a possible sale “are completely meritless.”