Microsoft is in talks to buy only the US operations of TikTok because that is what has run into trouble with Trump and his anti-China rhetoric. This deal, if it gets through, will make Microsoft a major player in the social media space. It will also provide relief to Bytedance, the company that owns Tik Tok. Trump had hinted at a ban on Tik Tok in the US using his emergency powers.

Tik Tok was launched by Bytedance in 2017 with a video service that was extremely popular with teens in the US and Europe. Tik Tok has a simple user interface and has millions of users across the world. The US has been critical of the Chinese owners of Tik Tok censoring videos critical of the Chinese government as well as the possible misuse of data.

This is part of a much larger US security crackdown on Chinese companies, including telecom providers Huawei and ZTE. The Trump administration has already ordered that the US should stop funding equipment from those providers in US networks. It has also tried to steer allies away from Huawei because of data access worries.

The good thing for Microsoft is that, unlike Google or Facebook which dominate the digital advertising industry, in the case of Microsoft it has not been under the intense scrutiny of US politicians and antitrust regulators over its market power. This could give Microsoft a huge foothold in social media and also into the global young market.