Wednesday, 2023 November 29

ByteDance threatens to sue US government on ban ‘issued without any due process’

ByteDance, in a statement on Friday, has threatened to sue the Trump administration in response to the executive orders signed by the president on Thursday, which are set to prohibit all transactions with ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent’s WeChat in the US within 45 days.

“For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed,” the company said. “What we encountered instead was that the administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

ByteDance also questions the validity of the report cited in the executive order, which suggests that the viral short video app is being used for misinformation campaigns and provides no transparency of how it handles its data.

“We make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to,” it said.

The company further said that it even expressed its willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American corporation. ByteDance has been in talks with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) about the sale of TikTok’s US operation before a September 15 deadline.

WeChat didn’t officially respond to the ban. Many of its users, in fear of losing connection to family and friends, already posted their account details from other social networks, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and email, on WeChat Moments.

Tencent’s Hong Kong-listed shares (HKSE:0070) dived 10% following the news in the morning, erasing USD 34.6 billion in market capitalization. The price later rebounded after reports that the executive order only blocks transactions related to WeChat, and not those involving other Tencent holdings in the US. The stock closed at HKD 527.5 (USD 68.06), down 5.04% on the day.

Wency Chen
Wency Chen
Wency Chen is a reporter KrASIA based in Beijing, covering tech innovations in&beyond the Greater China Area. Previously, she studied at Columbia Journalism School and reported on art exhibits, New York public school systems, LGBTQ+ rights, and Asian immigrants. She is also an enthusiastic reader, a diehard fan of indie rock and spicy hot pot, as well as a to-be filmmaker (Let’s see).

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