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Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

New export controls on technologies that Beijing deems sensitive are threatening to derail efforts by American companies to acquire TikTok's U.S. operations from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Driving the news: The regulations were unveiled on Friday and prevent "technology based on data analysis for personalized information recommendation services" — which would likely apply to TikTok's AI content-recommendation engine — from being exported without a license, according to the New York Times.

  • On Saturday, the Chinese state-owned Xinhua News Agency published commentary from a trade professor and government adviser suggesting that ByteDance "seriously and cautiously" consider whether to suspend TikTok negotiations after reviewing the new rules.
  • The state-owned English-language newspaper Global Times published a similar story quoting Chinese experts as saying the restrictions could help ByteDance "prevent its core algorithms used in video-sharing app TikTok from falling into US companies' hands."

The state of play: Microsoft and Walmart have teamed up on a bid to buy TikTok ahead of a Sept. 15 deadline that the Trump administration has imposed before the Chinese-owned app is banned on national-security grounds. Oracle is also reported to be in negotiations with ByteDance.

Between the lines: "If Beijing blocks the sale of TikTok, it would effectively be calling the Trump administration’s bluff, forcing the U.S. government to actually go through with restricting the app and potentially incurring the wrath of its legions of influencers and fans," the Times notes.

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2020 - Technology

Social media companies all starting to look the same

Data: Axios research; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Snapchat on Monday launched Spotlight, a video tab within its app that, like TikTok, distributes videos based more on how popular they are than on who created them. Facebook in August launched its TikTok competitor, called Reels.

Driving the news: Snapchat's news comes days after Twitter said it would be adding "Fleets," which are basically Snapchat stories for people who tweet. (Nearly every social media app has launched some version of Stories in the past few years.)

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.