TikTok is once again trying to avoid a ban as its sale to Oracle still isn't finalized

  • TikTok's US operations were supposed to be sold to a US company by today. 
  • This means TikTok is once again in the position of narrowly trying to avoid a ban on the day it's set to begin. 
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Today is the final deadline for ByteDance to complete a sale of TikTok's US operations to a US company before it's banned—meaning TikTok is once again in the position of narrowly trying to avoid a ban on the day it's set to begin.

Last week, the company filed for a 30-day extension with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the body responsible for approving a sale. But ByteDance claims the CFIUS hasn't responded to its request—so now the company has turned to the federal appeals court to grant an injunction allowing it to continue operations, per TechCrunch.

This saga has been confusing and drawn out—here are some of our lingering questions:

  • Didn't TikTok avoid a ban back in September with its Oracle deal? Yes and no. September 20 was the deadline for ByteDance to strike a deal to sell TikTok to a US company, which was met with the Oracle/Walmart deal. But today, November 12, is the deadline to actually complete the sale. That hasn't happened yet likely because ByteDance and Oracle are still negotiating the terms with the Department of the Treasury.
  • So what happens now? Either CFIUS or the federal court could grant an extension, meaning TikTok would remain in limbo for another month as the term details are hammered out. If no extension is granted, the Department of Justice can enforce a ban, though it's unclear whether it would actually do so immediately—it doesn't seem top of mind for the Trump administration right now.
  • How will this affect marketers on the platform? The most likely scenario is business as usual for at least another month. TikTok has been successful twice in getting injunctions granted against previous ban attempts, and while that's no guarantee it will succeed this time, its chances are good. Long term, it's less certain. The Trump administration has been an avid opponent of TikTok, but with president-elect Joe Biden taking over in January, things could shift. A Biden technology adviser told CNBC it was "too early to say" what his position will be on TikTok, but regardless, we can expect more stability in that decision than what's happening now. It's a nail-biter for marketers, though: Almost three-quarters (73%) of US marketers said the state of the TikTok deal will affect their advertising plans in 2021, per an October 2020 Vancery survey cited by Mobile Marketer. But because we likely won't know much for another month or so, marketers finalizing their 2021 budgets right now are facing a gamble.

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