ByteDance-owned TikTok lost more than 200 million users overnight when India banned it in June. The United States and many other countries have also threatened to ban the short-video app over data privacy and national security concerns, unless TikTok decouples itself from ByteDance and China. As Microsoft explores a TikTok buyout, angry social media users in China have been calling ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming a traitor for giving in to the US pressure.
Microsoft negotiating a TikTok buyout
Just a few days ago, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States, dismissing the idea of an American company buying the app. But technology giant Microsoft has expressed interest in buying the US operations of TikTok. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella held talks with President Trump, and the latter has changed his mind.
The Trump administration has given Microsoft and ByteDance until September 15 to conclude a deal. The Redmond-based software giant is negotiating a deal with ByteDance. The negotiations will be monitored by the US government’s committee on foreign investment, which has the power to block a deal.
ByteDance CEO earns the traitor tag
The Beijing-based company said in a statement that it would remain committed to its vision of becoming a “globalized company” despite facing challenges in India, the US, and other countries. ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming sent out a letter to employees. He said the company was facing a “forced sale” of TikTok’s US operations or an executive order banning the app in the US.
Frustrated users on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo have called ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming a traitor. Thousands of users on Weibo poured curses on Yiming. Some called him a traitor, others said he was an American apologist, and a few others described him as a coward. Yiming had praised the US a few years ago for allowing public debate, unlike China. Some commentators were also quick to point it out.
Many of the Weibo users argued that the US is targeting TikTok because it has become a threat to American giants like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. But there is little Beijing can do to retaliate the forced sale or ban of TikTok in the US. China has already blocked American Internet companies such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others from operating in the country.