White House rejected offer from TikTok allowing US government to oversee social media app

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance made extraordinary offer to the White House in 2022

Andrew Feinberg
Washington DC
Wednesday 29 May 2024 17:50 BST
Where is TikTok BANNED? #shorts

The Biden administration rejected an offer from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance that would have allowed federal officials to pick board members for its American subsidiary, examine the social media app’s source code and even flick a “kill switch” if necessary.

But US officials refused the plan, which TikTok called “Project Texas,” in favor of supporting a bill in Congress to force the sale of the controversial video-sharing platform to an American owner.

According to the Washington Post, ByteDance executives made the extraordinary offer in 2022 at a time when House and Senate members were haggling over how best to craft legislation that would effectively outlaw TikTok in America, amid fears that the app’s Chinese owners could, or already were, using it to negatively influence Americans and harm US national security.

But the ByteDance offer was rejected. A senior Biden official told the Post that the administration had determined the offer was “insufficient to address the serious national security risks” posed by TikTok.

“While we have consistently engaged with the company about our concerns and potential solutions, it became clear that divestment from its foreign ownership was and remains necessary,” the official added.

In April, President Biden signed into law a bill that would force TikTok’s sale or ban it outright by January 2025.

ByteDance subsequently sued the US government to block enforcement of the law, citing First Amendment interests of TikTok users.

However, a Justice Department spokesperson told the Post that the law “addresses critical national security concerns in a manner that is consistent with the First Amendment and other constitutional limitations” and said the DOJ looks forward to defending the law in court.

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