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The TikTok ownership dance

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Even before President Donald Trump signed an executive order that could soon smother social network TikTok, Microsoft emerged as a potential savior for the U.S.-based but Chinese-owned video snacking service. Now, Twitter and several investment companies are also reportedly talking to TikTok's owner, ByteDance, about possibly taking over the social network and keeping it going.

That may seem like sweet blessed relief to the network's estimated 100 million active U.S. users and especially the entrepreneurs who have made a career out of TikTok videos. But while new, non-Chinese ownership would remove some privacy and security concerns, it would also highlight the weaknesses in U.S. law and the ongoing vulnerability of smartphone app users.

Invoking powers granted by Congress to respond to emergencies, Trump issued orders Aug. 6 that will bar U.S. companies and consumers from doing business with TikTok and WeChat, a messaging service owned by China's Tencent Holdings, starting in mid-September. The bans seem less like defenses against extraordinary new threats than punches thrown in the larger trade battle between Trump and China. TikTok, after all, is wildly popular here (WeChat far less so; it has roughly one-tenth of TikTok's active U.S. users), and Trump's........

© The Korea Times

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