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After Biden signs TikTok ban into law, ByteDance says it won't sell the social media service

TikTok creator on impact of potential ban
TikTok creator on impact of potential ban 04:47

ByteDance, the China-based owner of TikTok, said it doesn't have plans to sell the social media service in the wake of a new law that requires it either to divest ownership of the popular app within 12 months, or face a U.S. ban.

On Thursday, ByteDance posted a message on Toutiao, a Chinese social media service which it owns, refuting reports that the company is considering selling TikTok. Such reports are "untrue," it wrote.

It added, "ByteDance does not have any plans to sell TikTok."

The message comes two-days after President Joe Biden signed the TikTok divest-or-ban measure into law and a day afterTikTok on Thursday vowed to fight the new law in the courts. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video posted to the service that "the facts and the Constitution are on our side." He added that TikTok expects "to prevail again," referring to Montana's failed effort to ban the app, which was blocked in November by a federal judge.

The stance from TikTok and ByteDance is setting up a battle between the technology companies and U.S. lawmakers over the future of the video app, known for its addictive never-ending scrolling. Lawmakers passed the ban law out of concern over ByteDance's ties to China, including fear that ByteDance or TikTok could share data about U.S. users with China's authoritarian government. 

"The idea that we would give the Communist Party this much of a propaganda tool, as well as the ability to scrape 170 million Americans' personal data, it is a national security risk," Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said on CBS' "Face the Nation," earlier this month. 

ByteDance's post on Toutiao included a screenshot of a headline from a tech-focused business publication called The Information that read, "ByteDance exploring options for selling TikTok without algorithm." In a post written in Mandarin, ByteDance stamped the Chinese character for "rumor" over the headline. 

The Information didn't immediately return a request for comment from CBS MoneyWatch. 

In a statement to CBS News, TikTok said, "The Information story is inaccurate. The law Congress passed and the President signed was designed to have a predetermined outcome: a ban on TikTok."

Already banned in some countries

TikTok is already banned in a handful of countries and from government-issued devices in a number of others, due to official worries that the app poses privacy and cybersecurity concerns. Countries that have instituted partial or full bans include India, where it has been nationally banned since 2021, and Canada, where devices issued by the federal government aren't allowed to have the app.

It's also not available in mainland China, a fact that CEO Chew has mentioned in testimony to U.S. lawmakers. ByteDance instead offers Chinese users Douyin, a similar video-sharing app that follows Beijing's strict censorship rules. TikTok also ceased operations in Hong Kong after a sweeping Chinese national security law took effect.

—With reporting by the Associated Press.

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