TikTok is becoming a hot business issue in the United States with President Trump’s September 15 deadline to ByteDance- TikTok’s parent company. As per the order issued by President Trump, within a period of 45 days, either the Chinese company should sell off the video-sharing app or else face the risk of getting banned. Software giant Microsoft has officially announced its plans to buy the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand operations of the Chinese app.
The ‘uncool’ tech giant- Microsoft wants to enter the social networking space and compete with the two Internet ads goliaths- Google and Facebook. But, now Twitter has also jumped in. The micro-blogging company led by its CEO Jack Dorsey is making a major effort to retain the liberal hegemony on social media across the world.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter had preliminary discussions about a “combination” with TikTok, although, it is still unclear whether Twitter will go for a full-fledged acquisition or not. Neither Twitter nor ByteDance has confirmed the WSJ report.
Twitter is practically punching above its weight here in a desperate bid to retain the left-liberal bias on global social media. The fact remains that there are several obstacles in Twitter’s way of striking a deal with the Chinese tech company- ByteDance.
The biggest obstacle is, of course, US President Donald Trump’s short deadline of 45 days. The Trump administration had started considering the popular video-sharing app a security threat after India banned it due to the security reasons, apart from 58 other Chinese apps. Now Trump wants to get rid of it by September 15. Striking a deal in such a short period would be an uphill task for Twitter.
Moreover, things have become somewhat trickier because the US President wants a cut for the US treasury in any deal involving TikTok. Trump has himself said, “The United States should get a very large percentage of that price because we’re making it possible.”
On the other hand, there is The Redmond (Washington)-based software giant- Microsoft, which is much larger than Twitter, and as much far better positioned to strike a deal with ByteDance. Twitter might naturally face less antitrust scrutiny when compared to Microsoft, but the micro-blogging company cannot pump in enough money to beat Microsoft in a possible purchase of the Chinese social media app.
WSJ has itself considered Microsoft as the likely front-runner insofar any deal with the Chinese tech company. Moreover, Microsoft has already made a lot of progress in this direction. In a blog post on August 2, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that he is expecting the talks for taking over TikTok’s operations to be concluded by September 15.
But, there is still not a lot of clarity about how the TikTok deal will proceed. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has himself said, “Who knows what’s going to happen with that deal. But yes, it’s a poison[ed] chalice.” About Trump’s remarks regarding a cut for the US Treasury, Gates further said, “I agree that the principle this is proceeding on is singly strange. The cut thing, that’s doubly strange. Anyway, Microsoft will have to deal with all of that.”
The TikTok deal is now turning out to be quite a task even for Microsoft- one of the biggest tech giants eager to enter the social media space. Therefore, it doesn’t make a lot of business sense for Twitter to jump into the fray for a deal with the Chinese tech giant. However, it can be said that Twitter’s entry might be more about ideology.
Twitter is known for its biases against the right-wing. From removing Bhagwan Ram’s video from Times Square, New York on their platform to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey displaying a “Smash Brahminical Patriarchy” placard, it has rarely tried to hide its left-liberal bias. During an interview, Dorsey even admitted that a majority of Twitter employees have a left-leaning bias, so much so that their conservative colleagues feel afraid to voice their opinions.
Last year, Twitter India was summoned by a Parliamentary committee in India to submit its view on the subject of “safeguarding citizens’ rights on the social/online news media platform”, after allegations of bias surfaced against it. In this context, reports of Twitter’s plan to strike a TikTok deal reveal its agenda to not allow a more open social media space, free from the liberal stronghold.