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Report: ByteDance to Shut Down TikTok If Legal Efforts Fail

TikTok owner ByteDance would reportedly rather shut down the social media platform than sell it.

That’s what the firm plans to do if it is unsuccessful in its legal efforts to fight legislation that would ban TikTok from app stores in the United States if it is not sold, Reuters reported Thursday (April 25), citing unnamed sources.

ByteDance considers TikTok’s algorithms to be a core part of the company’s overall operations, so it is unlikely to sell the app and those algorithms, according to the report.

The company posted Thursday on another one of its social media platforms, Toutiao, that it has no plans to sell TikTok, per the report.

When asked by Reuters about the reports that ByteDance would shut down the platform before selling it, a TikTok spokesperson pointed the media outlet to that post.

Shutting down TikTok would have only limited impact on ByteDance, because it contributes only a small share of the company’s overall revenues and daily active users, according to the report. ByteDance makes most of its money in China from other apps like the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin.

This report comes a day after President Joe Biden signed a law banning TikTok unless it’s sold within a year. The law gives ByteDance 12 months to sell its stake in the company or risk the platform being shut down.

Pending legal challenges, too, will keep this action from immediately disrupting TikTok’s business.

Biden signed the bill after its passage by the House and Senate over the last few days, with supporters arguing that the threat of a ban is necessary for national security concerns.

TikTok said Wednesday in a statement posted on X: “This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court.”

If ByteDance were to decide to sell the app, it would have several potential suitors, PYMNTS reported Wednesday. Those who have expressed interest in buying TikTok’s U.S. business include former Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, TV personality and O’Leary Ventures Chairman Kevin O’Leary, and former Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

Observers have also suggested that Microsoft, Meta or Oracle could be potential buyers.