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Here’s How Microsoft’s New TikTok App Would (Probably) Work

Get ready for a new TikTok platform

Owen Williams
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Published in
5 min readAug 4, 2020

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When President Trump suddenly announced that he intended to ban TikTok in the United States last week, all hell broke loose. Fearing they’d be cut off from their fans, TikTok users started posting farewell videos, and brands began backing away from the platform, fearing government backlash.

Now, it seems the app will be spared the ax thanks to a timely acquisition, reportedly by Microsoft. The company promised on Sunday that, if a deal goes through, it will transfer all private data on American users to the United States and keep it here. Microsoft would also be responsible for TikTok’s operations in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

This all raises one key question: How would any of this actually work? There are three distinct possibilities.

1. TikTok silos

One of the most obvious ways forward would be for Microsoft to create a spinoff of the app that only works in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, effectively walling users off from other versions (like the Irish and U.K. entities, for example).

The app could still appear as “TikTok” in app stores and operate the same, with Microsoft invisibly…

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Owen Williams
Debugger

Fascinated by how code and design is shaping the world. I write about the why behind tech news. Design Manager in Tech. https://twitter.com/ow