The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The TikTok Forced Sale

A bill stating that TikTok must divest or sell TikTok or stop operating in the US has passed.

Commenter KT Chong pointed out the stakes for China and the US

This ban is NOT just about protecting America from China. TikTok has global reach OUTSIDE the US. TikTok is a most popular app in over a hundred countries in the world — including in the Global South where China’s influences are steadily rising while US is facing increasing hostility due to the US complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and ethnic cleansing in West Bank. Once the US gets its hands on TikTok, the US government will definitely use it to spread anti-China and pro-US propaganda. That is the true purpose of forcing Chinese to sell TikTok to the US, so that that US can seize/steal a most popular media tool and then use its global influences against China. I would rather TikTok just gives up its US market (i.e., banned in the US) than to hand over its global influence to the US government.

By laws, the Chinese government can block the forced sale as ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok) has to follow Chinese laws. The CCP should absolutely NOT approve the sales. This is not just business. This is but a battle in the bigger war between the US and China over global influences and the new media. TikTok should NOT be handed over to the US and then be used as tool to expand US influence in the global market. I would rather TikTok just give up on the US market rather than to hand over TikTok influences on all those overseas markets to the US. I hope China is smart enough to realize what is at stake here.

This seems reasonable to me. It would be like China saying “the US must sell or divest Apple because Apple does business in China.”

I will point out that TikTok has been notorious or famous, depending on your view, for contradicting US propaganda on many issues, most recently on Palestine. The videos are often savage, and make politicians look like fools in a way that is much easier to do in video than with writing or audio only, and they are seen by millions. “A Modest Proposal” is famous because it’s so hard to be so savage and because there was no audio recording and transmission during the Irish Potato Famine.

Another issue is that America wants to force the sale of a successful internet/social media company: the most successful in recent years, and the first to make video work on social media.

If you can’t innovate: steal.

If the US was truly just concerned about damage to users, it could simply set up rules the US subsidiary has to follow, in the same way that China has specific rules for US internet companies that apply in China, but not elsewhere.

As for the fears of all user info being turned over to the Chinese government, that’s laughable, not because it might not happen but because governments mass gobbling such data happens all the time, and because some hacker group will inevitably crack every social media company and just sell data to everyone.

Anyway, China should definitely tell the US they don’t get to force a sale of a Chinese company. While they’re too polite to do so, it really should be accompanied with the metaphorical middle finger.

You get what you support. If you like my writing, please SUBSCRIBE OR DONATE


When And Where Will A Great Power War Happen?


Open Thread


  1. different clue

    A metaphorical middle finger might take the following form: Byte Dance might find the most polite way to say the following . . . that America has become a fading market and that business in America has become a Sunset Business and . . . if the numbers can be shown to make the case . . . that the money made by doing TikTok business everywhere else will be more than the money lost by not doing business in America anymore. Byte Dance could finish up by saying that declining to divest of TikTok is therefor a strictly business decision on its part with no political content or flavor at all.

    They could even express their sympathy to the young people of America who will lose their TikTok because of Biden signing the bill. The relevant China authorities could express the (seemingly sincere) wish that America will not hurt itself as badly by excluding TikTok as EUrope ( especially Germany) has hurt itself by excluding Russian gas. That could poison Biden’s election chances real good and hard, without a harsh word being spoken.

  2. Stewart Millen


    (Older) Dems and Biden doing this hurts Biden with young voters, just as Palestine does. There is no gain, and I for the life of me can’t see why ownership matters to anyone (yes, issues of security, of privacy, of spreading known disinformation can matter, but these cut across all platforms, and are no more prevalent on TikTok than on FB, Instagram, Youtube, X, or any other billionaire-run platform).

    This bill shows an old versus young divide, and it cut across both parties, making strange bedfellows.

  3. mago

    The message seems to be, the messages your platform disseminates are contrary to our ideologies, so we’re passing legislation to mandate that you sell your platform to us so we can disseminate our preferred messages.
    I’m speechless.

  4. Smed Butler Blues

    Tik Tok is owned by Bytedance which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Its major shareholders include KKR, Susquehanna International Group, Sequoia Capital, General Atlantic Service Company and Croatue. These entities control the majority of shares including the higher class shares which wield more voting power.

    There are many US/western/NATO people (spooks) who have or have had prominent positions at Tik Tok.

    Foard Copeland worked for the DOD, as a NATO desk officer and in Afghanistan for Development Alternatives Incorporated. DAI is a CIA front company. Copeland works on TikTok’s “Trust and Safety Policy.”

    Greg Andersen is “Feature Policy Manager” at TikTok. Previous to 2019, Andersen worked on ‘psychological operations” for NATO.

    Alexander Corbeil is vice president of the NATO Association of Canada, an organization funded by NATO and chaired by former Canadian Minister of Defense and senior counsel at public relations and communications (propaganda) firm Hill and Knowlton Canada.

    Corbeil is also “Content Policy Lead” for TikTok Canada. To join TikTok, he left his position at the US State Dept-funded security think tank SecDev, where he was involved with Middle Eastern “security” including specifically what role NATO should play in the Syria war/operation.

    TikTok’s “Global Product Policy Manager” is Ayse Kocak who previously spent three years at NATO as a specialist, like Corbeil, in Middle Eastern politics. She did a one year stint in Iraq as NATO’s “deputy senior civilian representative.”

    Chris Roberts is TikTok’s “Global Lead on Trust and Safety.” Roberts had been Senior Director of Technology Policy at the [Madeline “half a million Iraqi dead children are worth it”] Albright Stonebridge Group. Previous to that, Chris Roberts worked on “special projects” at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), yet another CIA front group.

    Victoria McCullough works on “trust and safety” at TikTok. She had previous stints at both the White House and the Dept of Homeland Security.

    Beau Patteson works as a “threat analyst” for the repeadtedly aforementioned “Trust and Safety Division” at TikTok. Patteson is also a military intelligence officer for the US Army. Previous to this, he was a “targeting analyst” for the CIA and and a foreign service officer for the State Dept.

    Alex S. was TikTok’s former “Trust and Safety/Global Content Integrity Policy Lead.” Previous to this, she worked for the State Dept and US Pacific Command, then as a “leadership analyst” at CIA Langley headquarters for almost a decade.

    Casey Getz was a director for cybersecurity at the White House’s National Security Council and spent over a decade at the CIA, eventually becoming a branch chief. TikTok then hired Getz to work on data security and ‘security integration.’

    Kathryn Grant worked at the White House, the National Security Council and the Dept of Energy before becoming TikTok’s “trust and safety” manager.

    Jim Ammons was a unit chief in the FBI for more than two decades before becoming a “crisis manager” at TikTok.

  5. Smed Butler Blues

    Alexander Corbeil is vice president of the NATO Association of Canada, an organization funded by NATO and chaired by former Canadian Minister of Defense and senior counsel at public relations and communications (propaganda) firm Hill and Knowlton Canada.

    The former Canadian Minister of Defense who chairs The NATO Association of Canada is David Collenette.

    Also, I forgot about Blackrock. Imagine that.

    The article below was originally published by Agente France Press Wednesday morning. This article, with the same title, has since appeared on outlets around the world.

    Who Owns Bytedance?

    “TikTok has said around 60% of ByteDance is owned by institutional investors including US giant BlackRock.

    ByteDance’s founders have a 20% stake, and the remainder is held by employees, according to TikTok.

    Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, ByteDance also lists General Atlantic among its investors. Three of the five members of ByteDance’s board are Americans, according to TikTok.

    A Chinese state-owned entity owns 1% of Douyin, according to the ByteDance website. TikTok has said this is a requirement under Chinese law and does not impact ByteDance’s international operations.

    That 1% stake also came with a board seat in ByteDance’s Chinese entity, tech news website The Information reported in 2021.

    When asked during a US congressional hearing in March last year if a Chinese official was on the Beijing ByteDance Technology board, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said “I believe so”.

    AFP also admitted that:

    “AFP, along with more than 100 fact-checking organisations, is paid by TikTok and Facebook parent Meta to verify videos that potentially contain false information.”

    So a major “news” organization owned by international institutional investors is paid by international institutional investors to keep us safe. These people care about us.

    Also, 1+1=3.

    Here is a Forbes article from May 2023 with more information on ByteDance:

    And here is an article from Private Equity International which goes into some of the issues surrounding currency conversion. KKR and Brookfield want to access the Remnimbi market to both raise funds and operate inside China – which wants capital coming in and staying, not going back out:

    “In a bid to attract foreign capital, the Chinese government is more welcoming towards QFLP applications, according to White. However, the Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership, which allows entities to convert a certain quota of RMB to foreign currencies for overseas investments, may be less easy to secure.

    Nevertheless, White had seen at least five global managers ask about the QDLP set up process just in the last quarter of 2023 alone as local investee companies have shown interest in investing in firms’ global strategies. According to AMAC filings, KKR previously attained QDLP status in December 2022 from the Hainan local government and Blackstone’s China unit did so in in August last year.

    “The caveat is that for the Chinese government right now, capital flow outflow is serious,” said White. “The Chinese government is very tight on controlling the capital outflow so the quota is hard to come by for foreign exchange quota to allow you to convert RMB into USD or euros to invest overseas. But if you want to do a QFLP, converting foreign capital into RMB and investing inbound, every local government would welcome [you].”

    According to White, the Shanghai local government is “very determined” on becoming the global asset management hub within China. “It’s working quite hard to offer better approval process and access to the leadership to lure people there and the talent is also there, so it’s easier to set up and then retain talent.”

  6. Eric Anderson

    Corporate social media … 😝
    There, be the dinosaurs.

    Get a life people. All the cool kids are on the #fediverse.
    But if you’re all cool with surveillance capitalism, then, I dunno, you must be, what? A masochist?

    Read up. Be socially responsible. We shouldn’t even need to be discussing TikTok.

  7. bruce wilder

    “we are trying to protect you . . . “ has worn thin and is scarcely credible though my Lyft driver tonight said he could understand that there might be real risks around the sale of data and there is the small matter of those commies hiding under the bed

    Americans are morons by and large — not sure which reduces their cognitive functioning more profoundly — social media kibble fed intravenously in place of thought and useful information or the kafabe politics of intelligence agencies “protecting us” from being informed

  8. Jorge

    I’m seeing claims that this is all about the pro-Palestine TikTok-rs.

    TikTok’s original moderation policy was “no politics or ugly people” (sorry, no attribution). If they’d stuck with that, they wouldn’t be in this pickle.

  9. Stewart Millen

    Eric Anderson

    Get a life people. All the cool kids are on the #fediverse.

    Heck, Usenet was actually cooler, and moreover distributed worldwide so it was difficult for any government or corporate “person” to control. Even if a government seized all the usenet servers in its country, there’d still be those outside.

    Wonder why the non-moderated usenet groups got spammed and trolled to death by users who seemed to have endless online time to do just that, seemingly with the purpose to drive users to corporate for-pay or for-ad services? Services that could be censored, [billionaire]-controlled, and the like? Hmm….

    I get frustrated with the media calling young people who use FB or X or Tiktok “tech-savvy” in comparison with their older peers. The real tech-savvy people are the ones who realize the dangers of such spaces, like Richard Stallman, because they understand the nuts and bolts of the software and what it does. Check out his “what’s bad about” section.

    What’s bad about: Airbnb | Amazon | Amtrak | Ancestry | Apple | | Cloudflare | Discord | Ebooks | Eventbrite | Evernote | Ex-Twitter | Facebook | FLIXbus | Frito-Lay | Frontier | Google | Gofundme | Grubhub | In-N-Out Burger | Intel | LinkedIn | Lyft | Meetup | Microsoft | Netflix | Patreon | Pay Toilets | Skype | Slack | Spotify | Tesla | Threads | Ticketmaster | Uber | Wendy’s | WhatsApp | Zoom |

  10. Mark Level

    I agree with Eric A, & appreciate all the data Smed Butler shares that shows that TikTok is the same cat food as the American SocMedia crap. (PS– over a year ago when Zuck changed Fbook to “Meta” I knew it would be a disaster & removed it from my investments– just before it lost 2/3rds of its “value.”) Yes, Eric, that’s why they call Soc Media S & M!! The users enjoy getting slapped around.

    On the surface this is about Sinophobia & jealousy because they know the actual “great replacement theory” playing out is the Rest of the World uniting against the creaking, White Man’s Burden collapsing kleptocracy. But the morons running things imagine they are still in charge via the “Narrative” & can smash others via propaganda only the stupidest would swallow.

    I’d assume Pelosi & Schumer et al have healthy enough insider trading portfolios but of course that type always wants to steal more. As long as TikTok is commercially succeeding why not take it away from those upstart Asiatics for the real planetary rulers? (But they won’t be so for long.)

  11. Willy

    If you were a corrupt politician who knew that gaming the system is where it’s at, and a like-minded wealthy social media influencer offered you some serious secret coin to do their bidding, what would you do?

    OTOH, Google, YouTube, Facebook, reddit, and Wikipedia are currently blocked in Mainland China. It’s always something.

  12. different clue

    The comments in this thread would raise the question of ” why anyway? why even try to force ByteDance to sell TikTok as a separate entity?” The political reason might be Cold War 2.0 diversionism.

    The business looting reason might be revealed by Steve Mnuchin suddenly jumping up out of the weeds to announce he is putting together an “investor group” to “buy TikTok”. Apparently Mnuchin and all the little mnunchkins want to get their hands on ALL the beautiful money. And maybe that has been the secret reason to try extorting ByteDance into selling TikTok all along.

    Here is the link.

    Obviously, even if Biden signs the bill, that does not legally obligate ByteDance to sell TikTok. It only obligates ByteDance to either sell TikTok or have it banned in America.
    As long as it does not get sympathy-banned everywhere else, then ByteDance could keep making money on TikTok everywhere else. If that is correct, then depending on whom the ChinaGov would prefer to see win the next American election, the ChinaGov might well instruct ByteDance to either sell or not sell. If the ChinaGov would prefer to see Trump elected, then instructing ByteDance to not sell would be the simplest way in the world to make that happen. Because once Biden signs that bill, he will harvest a huge hate-based loss of votes from bitter enraged TikTok users.

    Perhaps the ChinaGov would consider it a point of visibly displayed pride to not sell, simply to show the world that America could not make it sell. One can only hope.

  13. Carborundum

    Given that the US government has spent the last two decades getting its ass absolutely kicked at strategic communications on every social platform it’s attempted I’m not going to spend a lot of time worrying about this one.

    Yep, the G is going to break out the dance moves and surf the meme of the moment to effectively propagandize the youngs, non-US youngs at that. If anyone really believes that, I would like to speak to them some opportunities I have for them in Florida land – above mean high tide most of the time.

  14. different clue

    I just read a couple of comments over at NaCap which indicate, if correct, that the ban on Tiktok if ByteDance refuses to sell, may not be as watertight as we have been led to believe. The two comments describe a workaround which would be perfectly legal under the letter of the ban-law. And here they are . . .

    ” Carolinian
    March 15, 2024 at 11:08 am
    I haven’t read the bill but apparently would only ban TikTok from app stores whereas our cyber youth surely know how to sideload this app or any other onto Android. So yes Tiktok would very much live on.

    Reply ↓
    March 15, 2024 at 2:07 pm
    Oh god, that’s their solution?! And to think I was worried for a minute. It will take all of 6 hours for tiktok to distribute tutorials for this, and then sideloading will become as commonplace as piracy. For those of you who aren’t tech savvy, this is as simple as downloading a special file to your phone and tapping a switch in your settings app. It’s dead easy.

    This on top of the Streisand Effect (Which is what got me to bit the bullet on this app last time Trump wanted it banned) “

  15. Eric Anderson

    Different clue: “why anyway? why even try to force ByteDance to sell TikTok as a separate entity?”

    Given Smeds evidence re the major U.S. investors — who seemingly have little control over the content — it would seem to me it’s about optics. Blackrock, I suspect, is under serious political pressure.

    Which would explain the optics play by Mnuchin — riding in to save the day wrapped in the flag and carrying the Bible.

  16. higgins'lads

    Why did China allow all those US/NATO deep state actors to embed themselves in TikTok? I can’t imagine an argument along the lines of “keep your enemies close.”

    Is there a deal in place whereby TikTok, which is for the rest of the world, is overseen by the US/NATO, while China maintains all control over Douyin, which is for mainland China?

    This would benefit each side politically while still allowing international investors to enrich themselves.

  17. bruce wilder

    The TikTok ban threat, like the forced sale, may have no meaning other than to signal the increasingly absolute power wielded by the so-called intelligence community.

    It isn’t just that Congress voted for this against popular opposition, but that the Congress did as they were told . . . by the spooks.

    The spooks run the show and they ain’t asking. They is tellin’.

  18. higgins'lads

    Given Smeds evidence re the major U.S. investors — who seemingly have little control over the content

    I think the way it works is that the CIA, intel, ‘deep state’ etc. are the ones who do the dirty work for the investors. Smed’s analysis included not only naming the major controlling investors, but also all these US/NATO people who DO in fact have direct control over content at TikTok: ‘Content Policy Lead, ‘Global Policy Manager, and all the ‘trust and safety’ crap, which of course has to do with what content is deemed acceptable (“control over the content”).

    Money talks. Money is power. The investors are the money.

  19. elkern

    US Presidential elections are this year; and once again, “this is the most important election in history”. Dems are still afraid of being outgunned by the GOP on anti-China issues (see “Who Lost China?”), so they [mostly] have to support any “legislation” which appears to attack China, no matter how stupid.

    And of course, this is a stupid bill, written by GOP crazies to please/praise Trump (see “China China China”) and readily embraced by the remaining GOP Old Money wing because it costs them – and their Zillionaire masters – nothing.

    But Wait, There More: a Freudian bonus in this bill! It manipulates grown-ups’ natural antipathy towards teenagers (always envied by “adults” for having Too Much Fun) into a political framework. Send Money Now! Save America from All Those Bad People!

  20. different clue


    And isn’t it ironic in the funniest way that Trump has recently pretended to oppose that bill? He is shrewdly hoping that once Biden signs it, Biden will earn the hatred of tens of millions of TikTok users whom Trump hopes he can trick into voting for Trump based on their desire for revenge over the TikTok ban-attempt.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén