That TikTok takeover sure looks messy, huh?
Despite the Trump administration giving its blessing to an Oracle/Walmart lead takeover over of the wildly popular video app, as yet, there's no actual deal in place, with the associated parties still working through the details in order ensure that the final arrangement will meet all requirements, both from China and the US, and keep TikTok operating for American users.
There's still a chance that TikTok could be banned outright in the US, just as it has been in India - and right now, technically, TikTok should not be available in the US app store, as per the initial White House Executive Order which called for the sell-off of the app.
But it still is, and now, it will be till at least November 4th, after a US judge granted a stay of execution on the app's ban.
Here's a timeline of what's occurred for clarity:
- August 6th, US President Donald Trump issued two Executive Orders, which outlined separate bans on the operations of Chinese-owned social apps TikTok and WeChat within the US. The orders were each to take effect within 45 days of issue, which gave the two apps until September 20th to make arrangements, or face bans
- On September 19th, a day before the ban would hit TikTok, the company announced significant progress in a takeover deal. The US Department of Commerce then granted TikTok an extension, giving it till September 27th to finalize the details of the takeover, or it would face removal from the US app store.
- WeChat, meanwhile, challenged the White House Executive Order, citing a lack of evidence for the concerns leveled against it. And it won, meaning WeChat is still available in the US, pending a new hearing.
- On September 27th, hours before TikTok's app store ban was set to take effect, it also won an appeal against the White House EO, meaning it too would avoid a ban.
- The court has now set a November 4th hearing date for a follow-up on the TikTok ban in the US app store - while TikTok has till November 12th to finalize details of its full sell-off to a US-based company, or it'll face a complete ban in the US.
All clear? Makes Sense?
Essentially, TikTok has once again avoided any impacts based on the initial White House order, and it has until at least November 4th before anything changes on that front.
Which, importantly, means that any ruling will come after the US election, and TikTok will likely be hoping that a possible change in leadership could see the White House alter its approach to the app. Or it may still face a ban - or it might come up with another legal argument against the initial order, which it's thus far been able to argue is not evidence-based, and therefore not legal, and applicable in terms of a full ban.
And so the great TikTok takeover rolls on, with no clear end in sight - and potentially, in the end, no change at all, despite the many, many hours expended on takeover talks, trade negotiations, algorithm source code evaluations, etc.
Yes, in the end, it is possible that absolutely nothing changes, and nothing happens as a result of the TikTok takeover talks. That, as many have noted, would not look good for the US Government, which has continually pushed for a full sell-off of the app to a US-owned company.
In its current construction, based on publicly available information, the Oracle/Walmart deal wouldn't meet that requirement either way, so really, in the end, there may have been nothing gained from the TikTok takeover push. TikTok continues to add users, the White House executive orders have not been upheld. In theory, user data is still as susceptible to Chinese authorities as it once was, despite all the talk.
So, TikTok could still be banned in the US, but also maybe not, while all the court wrangling has essentially lead to a potential gap of just 8 days between it being banned in the app store and banned outright, if the relevant orders are upheld.
It seems like a lot of talk for limited action - but the bottom line is that TikTok's future won't be known, for sure, till a full takeover deal is agreed upon, or November 12th, whichever comes first. Or, until TikTok challenges the full ban as well - which, based on these cases, it now has precedent to do.
In summary, TikTok looks set to remain, unchanged, for some time yet.