After seemingly blowing past the Trump administration’s deadline for TikTok to find a new owner, the US government has quietly given the embattled social media platform a reprieve.
TikTok will now have another 15 days, until Nov. 27, to persuade US national security officials that its proposed deal with Oracle (ORCL) and Walmart should be approved, according to a court filing.
Thursday was supposed to be the drop-dead date for TikTok’s Chinese parent, ByteDance, to divest the social media company, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump this summer.
But as the deadline came and went, confusion reigned over what consequences might be in store for TikTok. Trump’s executive order did not say that TikTok would be banned if it missed the deadline; in fact, it outlines no consequences at all. The order’s ambiguity highlights the extremely unusual approach the Trump administration has taken with one of the world’s fastest-growing social media platforms, which has 100 million users in the United States alone.
On Friday morning, however, TikTok told a federal judge that the US government had granted the company’s request for an extension. The move doesn’t resolve the outstanding questions facing the company — it must still fight for its proposed deal and is embroiled in litigation over Trump’s earlier attempted restrictions such as a ban from US app stores — but it provides TikTok with some temporary breathing room.
TikTok declined to comment.
What was supposed to happen?
After Trump decried TikTok as a danger to national security — a claim the company has denied and cybersecurity experts doubt — he issued an executive order in August that would have made it illegal to have any business dealings with the company.
The US Commerce Department tried to enforce that order by attempting to ban downloads of the app in September. The agency also said that by mid-November, internet companies would be banned from carrying TikTok’s traffic.
Both of those measures have been temporarily blocked by federal judges after TikTok and TikTok content creators sued in separate cases to prevent them from going into effect.
But that still left a second executive order, which required ByteDance to divest TikTok by Nov. 12. The order did not say what the deal needed to look like, nor did it spell out what TikTok must do to keep operating in the United States. It also didn’t say what would happen should TikTok fail to be sold by the deadline.
Even so, TikTok scrambled to address the order, eventually coming up with a provisional deal with Oracle and Walmart. The proposal would see TikTok reorganized as a new, global company headquartered in the United States, with US investors accounting for a majority of the new company’s ownership.
Trump tentatively approved that deal in September when it was announced. But the arrangement has yet to be finalized by the US government. (It would also still need to be greenlit by Chinese regulators.)
This week, as the Nov. 12 deadline loomed, TikTok asked a federal court to step in and void the order.
TikTok will have another 15 days to get its deal done. Until then, we’re still in a holding pattern. Users will still be able to access the app, because the Trump administration’s attempted ban has been temporarily blocked amid the litigation.