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Proposed TikTok deal takes a turn, as U.S., China struggle for power over the app

Yahoo Finance's Tech Editor Dan Howley joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss the latest developments surrounding TikTok's U.S. operations.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The proposed TikTok deal has taken yet another turn. We've got Walmart and Oracle looking to square away the details to please President Trump. And now we have China changing its rhetoric, calling a buyout of TikTok's US operations, quote, "an American trap and a dirty and underhanded trick."

Yahoo Finance's tech editor Dan Howley joining us now. This is dizzying stuff, Dan. It seems like at every turn, there's a-- a new bit to this saga. What's the latest?

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah. It's almost as if this was kind of doomed from the get go. Who would have thought when you mixed two international superpowers and a app for dancing teens, I guess that's what happens?

But really, what's-- what's going on right now is that apparently-- this is from the Chinese state media-- basically saying that this deal is terrible for China, and that it's a huge letdown, or it allows the US to kind of run roughshod. I think they referred to US as gangsters at one point. And basically, this is kind of to be expected.

What-- what-- the issue here isn't so much now for China at least, the fact that the app is changing hands or-- or part of the app is being cut off, it's that the perception that the US is beating out China in anything. And so that's why we've come to these kind of loggerheads now where, you know, at one point, President Trump had been touting this deal as a big win for America, China basically saw that, and said, well, no. Now we're gonna, you know, throw our wrench into everything.

We're still kind of at a standstill as to who would make up the board. The US wants a majority American control of TikTok Global, which would be the US entity. China could just say, look, we're not even gonna bother with the sale. That would shut off the app in the US entirely.

It's also interesting to note that SoftBank is part of this. Masayoshi Son may work-- or be part of the board for TikTok Global. SoftBank is also trying to bid for the Indian business of TikTok to try to get that up and running again. That would be an interesting move as well because it would be slicing up even more of ByteDance's app. And, you know, I think this is just gonna be something that we'll continue to see churn, and change, and go through these different permutations until eventually, we reach some kind of agreement or the app is just pulled entirely in the US.

BRIAN SOZZI: Dan, are there any indications that throughout this whole saga/mess that TikTok is seeing a impact amongst the influencer community? Now, we had a guest on earlier in the week who is in fact an influencer with close to 315,000 followers. And we asked her, do care about all these privacy concerns? She said no.

DAN HOWLEY: Yeah. I mean, the influencers don't care because they're making money, right? That's-- I mean, that's the big thing. They used TikTok to make their case so of course they don't care if there's any kind of privacy concerns.

I think most people don't even understand what the privacy concerns are when it comes to TikTok. It's this kind of idea of future data-- or data that's collected now being used in the future against the teens who were using it. There's also obviously the issue of propaganda from China coming over. And ByteDance-- or TikTok recently apologized for censoring LB-- LGBTQ+ content on the app. They said that that was a mistake.

So going into the election now, you have the US worried that the app may push some form of narrative that is sympathetic to China or aligns with China's national interests rather than being objective. That's kind of something that now is a greater concern. But once that passes, it'll continue to be an issue as far as some of the information that may or may not be favored in terms of China. But I think the-- the issue long term is whether or not this data is used against people in the future.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: It ain't over till it's over. Dan Howley, thank you.