Just like Google, Microsoft hasn’t had any real success with building a social networking network. In fact, it barely even tried beyond the brief research experiment So.cl and the acquisition of an employment-centric LinkedIn. If it weren’t for all the focus that TikTok came under due to threats of a US ban, Microsoft’s intention of purchasing a large part of the popular video-based network would have never come to light until the deal was sealed. Curiously, Redmond seems really bent on pushing through with those plans to the point of publicly talking about it in the face of US President Trump’s threats.
TikTok has taken the social media world by storm in less than two years, though it has been in operation for far longer than that, albeit relatively unsuccessful. Its ties to China, however, have earned it the scrutiny and doubt of the US government which was started to mark Chinese companies as potential tools for the Chinese government’s spying activities.
Over the past few days, that situation has come to a head when President Trump publicly stated he will ban TikTok from the US. That, in turn, surfaced how Microsoft had been in talks with TikTok owner ByteDance over acquiring the latter’s US business. Negotiations were reportedly put on hold due to the prospect of an outright ban but, as per Microsoft’s latest post, it is still actively pursuing that deal.
The deal will actually involve acquiring TikTok’s services in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand only, leaving ByteDance to continue operating TikTok in the rest of the world. Microsoft promises that data of American users will be transferred to servers in the US and those that can’t will be deleted from servers running outside the country.
Why Microsoft is so interested in TikTok is a bit of a surprise given its focus on productivity services and corporate customers. Of course, adding a new source of revenue during these times definitely won’t hurt, though it remains to be seen if Microsoft has the talent to grow the service rather than just maintain the status quo. It also promises to add “world-class” security and privacy protections, though its eagerness to get the US government’s approval could mean it will also yield some compromises when law enforcement agencies come knocking at its door asking for users’ data.