Microsoft staffers oppose the TikTok deal as ‘Unethical’
Published: 09:16 PM, 11 August 2020
The US is currently forcing TikTok to be sold to an American company, saying that the would-be transaction must be completed by 15 September or otherwise the popular video-sharing app used by around 100 million users in the US will be banned in the country; reports Russian news agency Sputnik.
Microsoft staffers don't want their employer to buy out the short video app TikTok, the brainchild of the Chinese firm ByteDance, as revealed by internal message exchanges cited by the Daily Mail.
Writing on a corporate social network called Yammer, they explicitly stated that it feels like a deal and participation in negotiations to this end are not the right thing to do in terms of ethics.
"Especially since Satya [Nadella] became CEO, I've felt nothing but pride to be part of this company", one user posted in a comment thread, adding this is the first time that he has had "doubt gnawing at the pit of my stomach that maybe we're not doing the right thing".
Another portrayed the talks as "unethical from pretty much any perspective".
"That Microsoft would even be considering stepping into this situation is unthinkable", the user asserted.
Separately, in a survey on Yammer, seen by Business Insider, 63 percent of staff said "no" when asked whether they were for Microsoft's potential buyout of TikTok. Another 19 percent of some 250 staffers polled said they "weren't sure" and just 18 percent said "yes".
Trump initially announced he would ban TikTok's Chinese umbrella company from operating in the US on national security grounds, over fears that private data could be harvested through the app upon Beijing’s order - something that China outright denied. The Chinese envoy to the US, Cui Tiankai, said in response that forcing TikTok to sell to Microsoft violated US free market principles. Beijing, for its part, warned the US of "consequences" if it opens "Pandora's Box" with what a Chinese official called "political manipulation" and a crackdown on a Chinese company.
Donald Trump's last-minute decision to allow Microsoft to purchase TikTok, thereby boosting the tech giant’s social media presence, was understood to have been triggered by talks with fellow Republicans and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
"A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we're making [the deal] possible", Trump pointed out, sparking a debate about what was taken as a mafia-style arrangement.
The only social network currently owned by Microsoft is LinkedIn - its previous biggest purchase, which cost it $26 billion in 2016.
Neither Facebook nor Google, Microsoft's potential competitors in the social media domain, can enter the running for TikTok, because of anti-trust issues they are facing over allegations of monopoly rights abuse.
The valuation for TikTok by ByteDance, who earlier complained about facing problems when attempting to go global, has climbed above $50 billion, although US pressure to divest it could lower the price, an earlier Reuters report has it. The deal is to be finalised by 15 September.
Now that the deal is in the making, the key task is reportedly separating TikTok's technology from ByteDance's infrastructure, so as to effectively alleviate Washington's mounting concerns about the integrity of personal data.