US President Donald Trump (pictured) ordered ByteDance to divest operations in the country within 90 days and destroy related data, with any potential buyer requiring clearance by its foreign investment authority.
In an executive order signed on 14 August, Trump said there was “credible evidence” ByteDance “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States” through its ownership of assets formerly controlled by app Musical.ly.
ByteDance bought Musical.ly in 2017 and shortly afterwards merged it with its existing video-based social media platform TikTok, as part of attempts to expand the latter’s footprint outside of China.
Among the rules of its exit from the US, ByteDance has to divest all rights and assets related to TikTok’s operation in the country even if the elements in question are located elsewhere.
The latest move follows an order slapped on ByteDance and fellow Chinese app brand WeChat, owned by Tencent, earlier this month. That policy banned US companies from entering commercial agreements with either company from 20 September.
A number of technology giants including Twitter and Microsoft have been linked with a move to buy the TikTok operation in the US and elsewhere, with the app proving popular across a number of markets globally.
A buyer for the business would have to be cleared by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to operate in the market.