How the forced sale of TikTok could splinter the internet

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Well, you know how it is. Head out the door for a long-planned vacation, pray nothing major erupts before you get back, and before you can so much as pack a suitcase the president announces that ByteDance must sell TikTok — or else TikTok will be banned in the United States.

The timing was abrupt. The authoritarian cast of President Trump’s remarks on the subject was disturbing. And yet, for those of us who have followed TikTok’s trajectory this year, nothing that has happened over the past two weeks can truly be said to be surprising. I wrote this here on January 7th:

I imagine that most within ByteDance would still rather avoid any of these scenarios, and just keep running TikTok as it is.

And yet — how likely does it seem to you that…

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