In OneZero, Owen Williams breaks down three potential approaches for MicroTok.
- Silo’d TikToks. “This scenario would create siloed versions of TikTok, but it would ensure that the right data is stored on U.S. servers and never commingles with Chinese-hosted data.”
- One TikTok, segregated data. Huh? In this scenario ByteDance still makes the app, but Microsoft owns and operates the data? Given how important the data is to the recommendation algorithm, I don’t see how this would work. (And Williams doesn’t either.)
- TikTok as platform. “ByteDance and Microsoft [would] collaborate on a new TikTok platform enabled by a more open API.”
All three of those approaches are insane. Then again, all of this is insane.
Here’s how I think this will go down: Microsoft backs out, because the Trump administration is the crazy person in this threeway, and Satya Nadella is Tom Wambsgans in the season 2 finale of Succession. Come September, Trump makes a lot of noise, Barr tries to do something hand-wavey to shut down TikTok, and when it turns out he can’t, Trump turns on Apple and Google as the app store chokepoints…and because their CEOs are convenient targets. When they don’t do his bidding, he shouts election interference…
Oh god, please make it stop. Please.