Steven Mnuchin Says He's Building a Team to Buy TikTok

Steven Mnuchin Says He's Building a Team to Buy TikTok
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The Facts

  • Former US Treasury Secretary under former Pres. Trump Steven Mnuchin announced that he's building a team of investors to try and buy the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, which is estimated to be worth upwards of $100B.

  • Mnuchin's business venture is in response to the US House of Representatives passing a bill that would ban the app unless its Chinese-owned parent company Bytedance sells its stake in the company.

The Spin

Narrative A

Americans and their representatives have long known the dangers posed by TikTok — all they needed was an American buyer to keep the tremendously valuable app alive once it's out of PRC hands. With cash being the only other unsolved problem, Steve Mnuchin, alongside several other investors, is willing to be that solution. TikTok will remain accessible to millions of Americans while also safe from the prying eyes of Beijing.

Narrative B

Senators are still unsure whether to pass this bill because of its potential effects on US trade with China. Some of the largest American companies rake in significant portions of their revenue thanks to business with the PRC, and this bill would give Beijing an excuse to start accusing American tech companies of spying. Even if it passes, China can simply find backchannels like data brokers to buy Americans' data. Instead of threatening the US economy, Congress should pass data privacy laws that prohibit all companies from harvesting user data.

Cynical narrative

The current bipartisan zeal focusing on banning TikTok and relations with Beijing is a red herring considering the amount of domestic surveillance undertaken by the US federal government with the help of Silicon Valley. America's TikTok drama distracts from a serious privacy issue much closer to home.

Metaculus Prediction

Public figures in this story

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