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TikTok users welcome the Oracle deal, but the saga with Trump is not over


TikTok has been targeted by the Trump administration because it is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance.

Angela Lang / CNET

Austin Benji chimed in on TikTok after news broke on Sunday that Oracle had reached an agreement aimed at preventing the short-form video app from being banned in the United States.

In a video shared with his 310,600 supporters, Benji, who identifies himself as a political conservative, points out that Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chairman, is also a conservative who supports President Donald Trump.

“This is a huge gain for conservative TikTok users because we have been shadowed, banned and shadowed again over the last few years,” Benji says in the video. “So guys, TikTok will not be banned and I’m incredibly happy that Oracle ended up winning this bidding war.” (Shadow Prohibition involves suppression or removal of content without warning a user and is a constant complaint on social media platforms. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Shadow Prohibition.)

TikTok’s deal with Oracle, which sells software to businesses, has sparked a mixed reaction from app users over Ellison’s ties to the Trump administration. Safra Catz, the company’s CEO, also has links to the administration after being on Trump’s transition team. But there is one thing that TikTokers of all political stripes are happy about: the expectation that the deal will save the app.

The card app video app filled with aroused videos after the deal was announced. Some TikTokers jumped out happy dance steps, a favorite among users. Others just screamed with joy when they proclaimed that the app would not be banned.

The online celebration underscores TikToker’s commitment to the app, which is estimated at 100 million Americans, though the victory dances may be premature. Not much is known publicly about the deal, which appears to have Oracle providing technology services aimed at addressing US national security concerns regarding TikTok, which is owned by Chinese technology giant ByteDance. The company will reportedly also take a stake in TikTok, but not buy the entire operation. It’s unclear what happens to TikTok’s algorithm, the code that is credited for keeping users hooked by providing them with videos that match their tastes.

The expected structure of the deal appears to be below the requirements set by the Trump administration in a few executive orders. An August 6 executive order prevents U.S. companies from doing business with ByteDance or its affiliates with reference to national security concerns. TikTok could effectively be banned on September 20 if an agreement falls through. A subsequent order, issued on August 14, ordered ByteDance to “divest all interests and rights” in assets and property supporting TikTok’s US operations by November 12. The White House did not respond to questions about orders.

The proposed agreement between TikTok and Oracle is still to be evaluated by the US government. The deal will be reviewed by a committee overseeing foreign investment in the United States this week and then presented to the president with recommendations, Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday morning.

“We are reviewing it with their technical teams and our technical teams to see if they can come up with the statements we need,” Mnuchin said of Oracle’s role in the deal.

He also told the business news network that the deal includes a commitment to set up a U.S. headquarters global TikTok business that would employ 20,000 people.

The deal left some observers, including former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos, overwhelmed. “An agreement where Oracle takes over hosting without source code and significant operational changes would not address any of the legitimate concerns surrounding TikTok,” tweeted Stamos, who is now at Stanford University.

Tiffany Li, a technology attorney and visiting professor at Boston University School of Law, said she thinks it is likely that TikTok will continue to operate in the United States.

Executive orders, she said, can be revoked, changed or interpreted by the Trump administration.

“Now that a Trump-friendly company has taken this stance, I would be willing to bet that there is great potential for a situation where TikTok will not be banned,” she said.

The agreement does not address the national security issues with TikTok because ByteDance maintains a level of control over the app, Li added. The Trump administration said in its orders that TikTok raised concerns about national security because it could be used by the Chinese government to spy on US federal employees.

Some Republican lawmakers are already urging the administration to reject the agreement.

“Whatever the reason, the available evidence only forces one conclusion: ByteDance has no intention at all of relinquishing ultimate control of TikTok,” Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said in a statement. “ByteDance, as TikTok’s parent company, will continue to be subject to Chinese laws that endanger US data.”

TikTok has pushed back against accusations that the app is a national security threat and promised that it would never hand over US data to the Chinese government. At the same time, the company said they believe the partnership with Oracle will tackle concerns raised about the app.

“This proposal will enable us to continue to support our community of 100 million people in the United States who love TikTok for connection and entertainment, as well as hundreds of thousands of small business owners and creators who trust TikTok to increase their livelihoods. and build meaningful careers, ”TikTok said in a statement.

However, Oracle’s political ties to the Trump administration are already rubbing some TikTok users the wrong way. In February, Ellison hosted a fundraiser for Trump, leading to a setback from some Oracle workers.

A TikToker using the @lord_tomothais handle said in a video that he thought it was “fishy”, Microsoft lost the bid. The user, who has more than 152,000 followers in the app, has expressed support for Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival.

“They’ll probably choke this platform to death. It’s probably going to soften creators and we’ll see,” @lord_tomothais says. “So so far there is no ban on TikTok … but we will see how they destroy this application.”

Other US users did not seem to care who won the TikTok bid as long as the app went online.

Korie Mckennedy, who has 2 million followers on her TikTok account @koriee_me, posted a video of herself making an energetic happy dance to pop music.

“Oracle comes in with the link,” wrote TikTok user Mckennedy in the caption of his video. “I got hype when I watch the news.”

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