Users of the social media platform TikTok rejoiced as the app recently avoided a September ban within the United States, following American companies Oracle and Wal-Mart’s possible acquisition of the app’s U.S. operations and a federal court order blocking the ban.
Founded in 2012, Chinese company ByteDance is now a worldwide corporation with a presence in over 120 cities. Many of their apps have been released since then, but none as notable as Douyin, released internationally as TikTok in May 2017.
Since ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly in November of that same year, the app has exploded into a popular musical video-sharing platform, garnering over a billion installs through the Google Play Store alone.
“TikTok has been cool,” said Connor Willey, a third-year communications major with around 22,500 followers on the platform. “It’s been a large contributor to discussion with current events going on. I think it’s a huge part of our joke and meme circulation now.”
Samantha Macias, a third-year communication major with an emphasis in entertainment and tourism said that TikTok is a big part of society with a fanbase for every age group.
“My mom was telling me about TikTok and I’m like, ‘I didn’t even know you had your own account,’” Macias said.
The order called for a ban on TikTok, stating that the app gave the Chinese government access to American users’ information, posing a national security threat to U.S. government workers. However, to circumvent the ban, ByteDance would be required to sell its U.S. operations to an American company within 45 days of the order’s issue. The deal needed to be finalized by Sept. 20.
The users of the platform were not happy to hear about the app’s possible termination. According to The Wall Street Journal, trends under the hashtag #savetiktok emerged, advocating users to dance, download virtual private networks software to bypass regional barriers and follow popular influencers on other social media platforms to keep the fun alive.
Petitions were also created by users to save the beloved platform, each garnering over tens of thousands of signatures. Users could not let TikTok go easily with all the pleasant memories made because of the app.
“The (memory) that sticks out to me the most (would be) a comment from a mom on one of my posts that said, ‘My newborn...just heard your voice on this video and laughed for the first time ever. I just got to hear my child laugh for the first time because of the voice you did on the video,’” Willey said. “That's probably the coolest thing I've ever heard.”
“(In the beginning), the only people who really TikTok-ed around me were kids I nanny. Ever since the app came out, they are all just on their phones,” said Macias. “I (told them), ‘Okay, teach me how to TikTok,’ and they were so excited. They taught me all these dances, and it was so fun doing that with them.”
On Aug. 27, it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that superstore chain Walmart wished to join tech giant Microsoft’s bid for TikTok. The other company offering a deal was the computer software company Oracle.
Until Microsoft’s bid was denied the algorithm rights on Sept. 14, these three companies were the sole combatants in the legal battles. Trump showed support for Oracle, stating on Aug. 18th that the company could be more than able to handle the acquisition and operations.
Despite Oracle being the sole bidder as the Sept. 20 deadline approached, the Trump administration and the Chinese government still needed to review and approve the sale with all associated parties before TikTok could officially avoid a ban within the U.S..
“I hope it doesn't get banned,” Wiley said. “This has kind of been like the first avenue where I've gotten to produce some content that actually seems to be reaching some sort of audience.”
On Sept. 19, Trump gave the pending deal his approval, giving the green light to sole bidder Oracle, now joined by Walmart, to begin acquisitions. According to The Wall Street Journal, the two companies will have a 20% ownership of the company: Oracle having 12.5% and Walmart having 7.5%.
TikTok still faced a possible ban on Sept. 27 if the deal was not finalized or in further progress. According to CNN, a U.S. judge received a request from ByteDance to postpone the ban on Thursday; ordering the Trump administration to a court hearing on the day of the deadline.
That night, Judge Carl Nichols ruled against the ban, allowing ByteDance and all involved parties to finalize negotiations before Nov. 12, according to The Wall Street Journal. Should the deadline pass, a full-scale ban would be enacted, making the app unusable for all U.S. users, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
At this time, TikTok can still be downloaded from the App Store and the Google Play Store.