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Microsoft reportedly in talks to buy TikTok in the U.S.

As TikTok became more popular, U.S. officials grew concerned about the potential for the Chinese government to use the app to gain data on U.S. citizens. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which investigates overseas acquisition of U.S. businesses, began a review of the purchase in the fall of 2019.

TikTok has become a political pawn between the U.S. and China, and elected officials have criticized the app’s security and privacy practices, suggesting that user data collected through the app might be shared with the Chinese government. Trump said earlier this month he was considering banning TikTok as a way to retaliate against China for its handling of the coronavirus.

TikTok critics and competitors have played up that fear, including Facebook, which has criticized the app for alleged censorship.

Trump’s threat to ban TikTok came just a few weeks after reports that many TikTok users had tried to sabotage a Trump campaign rally by requesting tickets they never planned to use and coordinated a push to flood Trump’s 2020 campaign app with negative reviews.

TikTok, which has offices in Los Angeles, has been looking for ways to distance itself from its Chinese ownership, seeking to reassure the public that no data is stored on servers in China and that the app operates independently. ByteDance even appointed a CEO formerly of Walt Disney Co, Kevin Mayer, to run its operations in America and the rest of the world.

—Bloomberg News