Updated Apr 23, 2024 - Politics & Policy

TikTok's escape hatches as U.S. prepares to pass a ban

This is TikTOk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok has multiple options in the coming months, even as the Senate passed legislation on Tuesday night forcing it to be sold or face a ban.

Why it matters: After years of threats, the U.S. is preparing to follow through on its threats to ban TikTok.

But once President Biden signs the legislation, the company still has options:

  1. First up, fight in court: TikTok plans to file a lawsuit on First Amendment grounds once the bill is signed by President Biden, Axios Pro Tech Policy reporter Ashley Gold tells me.
  2. If that fails, wait out the election: Chinese-owned company Bytedance will have up to a year to divest from the app, according to this version of the bill. The company could hope for a change of heart by whichever party has control after November, especially now that Trump has flip-flopped.
  3. As a last resort, rush through a shotgun divorce: ByteDance could establish TikTok (or at least TikTok U.S.) as an independent company with its own stock, as Axios Pro Rata author Dan Primack has written.

The bottom line: The Chinese government is a wild card here, as it can block any sale — or water it down by refusing to allow a TikTok sale to include its famous algorithm.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect that the Senate passed the bill.

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