Facebook Doesn't Own TikTok, and Might Not Ever

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Oct. 5 2021, Published 10:50 a.m. ET

TikTok, the short video-sharing social media company, has faced controversy in several countries, including the U.S. Facebook has encountered similar challenges. Who owns TikTok? Is it owned by Facebook?

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Facebook suffered an outage on Oct. 4, affecting millions of users worldwide. The social media company's growing clout has made regulators apprehensive, and many have been calling for breaking up the social media giant.

Does Facebook own TikTok?

Facebook doesn't own TikTok. While Facebook is a U.S. company, TikTok is a Chinese company. Like U.S. tech and social media companies, Chinese tech companies have been facing regulatory scrutiny.

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The Chinese government has cracked down on its tech companies, which it believes have become too powerful and have too much data. For example, the country went after ride-hailing company DiDi Global because it feared that the company might share Chinese citizens' data with U.S. authorities.

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Who owns TikTok?

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which was founded by Chinese billionaire Zhang Yiming. In 2021, he stepped down as CEO of the company.

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The Chinese Communist government has also gone after some of its billionaires, including Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma. China is worried about the country's rising wealth inequality, which runs contrary to its communist vision of shared prosperity.

Who owns TikTok U.S.?

After Donald Trump cracked down on TikTok and threatened to ban it, citing national security concerns, the Trump administration helped broker a deal under which Oracle and Walmart were to take a stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations. TikTok selected Oracle as its cloud technology partner in the U.S. Under the deal, Walmart would have the option to purchase a 7.5 percent stake in TikTok Global, while Oracle could have bought 12.5 percent.

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However, the agreement has been shelved under the Biden administration. From its onset, the deal looked uncertain—it was unlikely that China would have approved the forced sale of one of its home-grown tech companies to U.S. companies. Though it's not threatening bans and tariffs as much as the Trump administration, the Biden administration hasn’t been soft on China—if anything, it's hitting harder in certain areas, such as human rights.

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Which companies does Facebook own?

Facebook doesn't own TikTok, and considering the regulatory heat in the social media industry, it might never. It already owns WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as Oculus VR, which it acquired in 2014 for $2 billion. In 2013, it acquired mobile web analytics company Onavo, and in 2011, it acquired Beluga for an undisclosed amount.

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