Microsoft in talks to purchase TikTok’s Australian arm

The app has faced scrutiny in Australia as well as overseas

Microsoft will continue talks to buy the Australian and American divisions of TikTok, following US President Donald Trump’s threat to ban the app from the country.

Trump first announced his intent to ban TikTok from the US days ago after ordering its parent company to divest from the social media platform, citing national security concerns. Yesterday (August 2), Reuters reported that Bytedance has agreed to divest from TikTok’s US operations.

In a blog post, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, and Trump have spoken and is “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States”.

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“The two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets,” the blog post read.

Talks between Microsoft and Bytedance will finish no later than September 15.

Back home, TikTok is also being scrutinised after unconfirmed concerns the Chinese Government could access Australian users’ data. Earlier this month, an unnamed MP said the government was facing calls to ban the app.

“TikTok does not share information of our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government, and would not do so if asked,” TikTok Australia general manager Lee Hunter said in response to this claim.

“We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity.”

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Hunter has also sent letters to politicians in an attempt to alleviate concerns.

As the SBS reports, representatives from TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Google have been invited to give evidence at a Senate inquiry into how foreign interference is being conducted through social media. TikTok has been asked to appear at a hearing on August 21.

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