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Trump’s threat to ban TikTok might be legal, but it’s super shady

The answer to that question is a resounding, “well, it’s complicated.” But before we jump into that legal briar patch, let’s take a quick look at the company that has so effectively managed to raise the president’s ire. If you don’t know what TikTok is, go ask literally anybody under the age of 30. The short-form, video-based website is a social media juggernaut. It pales against Facebook or Twitter in terms of monthly active users but TikTok still commands an estimated 70 million users in the US (and around 800 million worldwide). It’s owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012. 

TikTok was launched internationally in 2017, a year after the Chinese-market version (dubbed Douyin) went live, though the app didn’t make it state-side until after ByteDance merged with Musical.ly in 2018. But when TikTok did hit, it hit hard, quickly becoming one of the most downloaded apps in

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Meet Zhang Yiming, the secretive Chinese billionaire behind TikTok who made over $12 billion in 2018 and called Trump’s demands to sell the app ‘unreasonable’

ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming makes his own TikToks — and requires his senior employees to as well.
ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming makes his own TikToks — and requires his senior employees to as well.

Visual China Group via Getty Images; Ruobing Su/Business Insider

  • Zhang Yiming built a $16.2 billion fortune after founding ByteDance, the Chinese software developer behind TikTok.

  • Despite being one of the wealthiest people in China, Zhang is extremely private and little is known about his personal life.

  • TikTok is currently in negotiations to sell its US operations to Microsoft amid a threat of a ban from President Trump, sparking fierce criticism of Yiming on Chinese social media.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The widespread popularity of TikTok has not just created a new generation of social media stars, it’s also created a social media billionaire.

Zhang Yiming, the 36-year-old software engineer who founded the app’s parent company, now has a net worth of $16.2 billion, Forbes estimates. Despite being one of the

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There is still no proof TikTok is spying on you for China

TikTok, the app beloved by Generation Z, might get booted out of the US.
TikTok, the app beloved by Generation Z, might get booted out of the US.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

  • The Trump administration is forcing TikTok to sell off its US business by September 15 or else face a ban, accusing it of posing a privacy and national security threat because it is owned by a Chinese company.

  • The administration has explicitly claimed TikTok spies on people but has never offered public evidence.

  • Experts diving through TikTok’s code and policies say the app collects user data in a similar way to Facebook and other popular social apps.

  • Google and Facebook by comparison almost certainly hoover up more user data than TikTok through their sprawling number of apps and services — but get less US political scrutiny on privacy.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

TikTok, the video-sharing app whose meteoric rise amongst teenage users has made it a challenger to the likes

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How Noah Schnapp Balances ‘Stranger Things,’ TikTok Fame and ‘Regular Childhood Life’

For Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood issue, we interviewed TikTok stars about their lives in quarantine.

Noah Schnapp goes to a regular school with normal people and cringes when his parents watch him on TikTok. He just got a Husky and regularly makes videos with his sister, Chloe. He also just so happens to star on one of the biggest streaming success stories (having already broken into the entertainment industry as an actor on “Stranger Things”). He spoke to Variety about his life on and off social media.

More from Variety

When did you get on TikTok?

All my friends had it before me and they were always using it and I always thought it was weird. I was like, “I’ll never get on TikTok. I’ll never be on there.” And then last year, everyone started to join and it started to get really big. And I was like, “O.K.,

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TikTok lovers rage against Trump threat of US ban

A TikTok star pounds a beat as she weaves lyrics mocking the idea of US President Donald Trump banning the short-form video sharing app.

The “Trump Freestyle” post Monday by @maya2960 quickly racked up more than a million views and 500,000 “likes” on the popular platform owned by China-based ByteDance.

“Didn’t think this through, little Donny, did you? Not much of a businessman,” she rapped.

“You can ban this app, there’ll be a new one. There’s supply where there’s demand.”

The lyrics included a promise that TikTok users would not go down without a fight, citing First Amendment protections against government censorship of free speech.

Another video snippet racking up views was captioned “Me trying to convince Trump to let us keep TikTok” and showed a woman coloring her face orange and building a brick wall.

American comedian Elijah Daniels used Twitter to bid farewell to his TikTok followers, giving

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This chart shows how a Microsoft acquisition of TikTok for $50 billion would stack up against tech’s largest deals ever

A logo for the popular video app TikTok, which is owned and operated by the Chinese company ByteDance.
A logo for the popular video app TikTok, which is owned and operated by the Chinese company ByteDance.

Reuters File Photo

Microsoft is in talks to buy wildly popular video sharing platform TikTok from Chinese owner ByteDance, and the deal could go as high as $50 billion — the latest valuation given to TikTok by its investors, according to a recent Reuters report.

That would make it the second-highest tech acquisition price of all time, well above the prices paid in dozens of major acquisitions.

Here’s a look at the history of tech’s most expensive acquisitions, from Apple’s measly $3 billion purchase of Beats all the way to Dell’s notoriously expensive acquisition of EMC Corporation for a whopping $67 billion:

27. Apple bought Beats in 2014 for $3 billion.

From left to right: Beats cofounder Jimmy Iovine, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Beats cofounder Dr. Dre, and Apple senior VP Eddy Cue.
From left to right: Beats cofounder Jimmy Iovine, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Beats cofounder Dr. Dre, and Apple senior VP Eddy
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Microsoft Tries To Salvage Deal To Buy TikTok, Appease Trump

(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday to salvage the company’s effort to buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S. and several other countries.

Talks to buy the music video app will move quickly “in a matter of weeks” and are expected to be completed no later than Sept. 15, Microsoft said in a statement. The company will continue to engage Trump and the U.S. government.

The purchase would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Microsoft said it may invite other American investors to take minority stakes in the company, which is owned by one of China’s largest tech companies, ByteDance Ltd.

Microsoft pledged to add more security, privacy and digital safety protections and ensure that all private data of Americans be transferred back to the U.S. and deleted from servers outside

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TikTok sale uncertain as Trump ban looms: reports

San Francisco (AFP) – Negotiations for Microsoft to buy the US operations of Chinese-owned TikTok are on hold after President Donald Trump threatened to bar the social media app and came out against the sale, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Trump has pledged to get tough on the massively popular video-sharing app, which US officials have said could be a tool for Chinese intelligence — a claim the firm, owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, has repeatedly denied.

While there has been no sign yet of the ban he threatened on Friday to impose, his words were reportedly already adding to uncertainties for TikTok.

“Before Mr. Trump’s remarks, the two sides believed the broad strokes of a deal could be in place by Monday,” the paper reported on a possible TikTok-Microsoft sale, citing unnamed sources.

It also said Trump’s threats and opposition to the deal had prompted TikTok to

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TikTok teens are making memes saying they’ll show up at the White House to confront Trump over app ban

Many TikTok creators respond to the president's proposed TikTok bans with memes and jokes.
Many TikTok creators respond to the president’s proposed TikTok bans with memes and jokes.

TikTok

  • President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters he would take action to ban popular app TikTok as early as Saturday.

  • Trump over the past month has joined other US officials in expressing security concerns over the app’s Chinese ownership and suggested the service is sharing user data with the Chinese government, though the app’s owner has denied doing so. 

  • While some TikTok creators encouraged their fans to follow them on their other social media accounts, others made memes or plans to set up a virtual private network so they could still use the app after a ban.

  • A TikTok spokesperson thanked users for their support in a video statement Saturday, and said the app is “here for the long run.” 

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters that he

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Haunted TikTok is the next evolution of internet horror

Haunted TikTok is the next evolution of internet horror
Haunted TikTok is the next evolution of internet horror

After hours of scrolling through endless TikToks of teens dancing, couples pranking each other, and dogs being cute — something on your For You Page stops you dead in your tracks.

Someone is walking around a dark, empty house, as text explains that their mom hasn’t come home. As they take us through their neighborhood, they realize it’s not just her — everyone has vanished overnight.

“Hey kinda serious here like my entire town is missing I’m not really sure what to do is this happening elsewhere?” the caption reads.

Clicking on the @where_is_everybody account (with over 240,000 followers), you discover someone named Alexander Nielsen has chronicled this phenomenon since October 2019. Each video shows more of this empty world, where people have been replaced by shadowy ghost figures.

After COVID-19 led to a wave of stay-at-home orders and widespread panic-buying

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