TikTok Makes the Case Against TikTok

The lawsuit against the government highlights the issues they perhaps shouldn't highlight...
TikTok Sues Government Over Law Forcing Sale or Ban
The social media company and its Chinese parent, ByteDance, sued to challenge the new law, saying it violated users’ First Amendment rights.

Filing this lawsuit was inevitable and if nothing else, will likely buy the company more time – certainly into the next administration, which could make all of this moot. Or it could be too late to matter all that much by then. Regardless this section of excerpts seems to get to the heart of the problem here:

TikTok filed its suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that selling its U.S. operations was not “commercially, technologically, or legally feasible.” A part of that argument hinges on how TikTok and its competitors are global in nature and content is accessible across country borders, with international videos as part of its appeal.

Yes, this is a problem for TikTok and any would-be buyer. If they're only buying the US operations and separating that business from the rest of it, what does that do to TikTok, the product? It certainly can't help on any number of fronts. And it could very well ultimately kill the company even without a ban. And how do you value TikTok when taking all of this into account?

It is also impossible to move the app’s underlying coding to a new owner, TikTok argued, adding that it would take years for a new set of engineers to familiarize themselves with that code to develop and maintain the platform. In addition, the engineers would need access to ByteDance software to keep TikTok functioning, which the new law prohibits, the company argued.

Come on, companies/products sell all the time and the new owners figure out a way to keep the products operating. Meanwhile, needing "access to ByteDance software to keep TikTok functioning" would seem to undermine the company's own high-level claim that they're a separate entity, not at all beholden to the Chinese entity...

TikTok’s success also hinges on its recommendation algorithm, which helps surface tailored content to users, something the Chinese government has said it would not sell, the suit notes.

Yes, you've hit the actual problem right on the head. Nice work, TikTok. The company really seems to enjoy the self-ownership model of self-defense.

TikTok pointed to the billions of dollars it has already spent to address potential security risks in the past four years, an effort known as Project Texas, as well as a draft 90-page national security agreement that made “extraordinary” commitments to the U.S. government. TikTok has separated its U.S. user data from the rest of the company’s operations and provided third-party oversight of its content recommendations.

I repeat: the data element is less of an issue than the foreign government controlling the algorithm element. Per above, that aspect is not up for debate, so... "Project Texas" is fine, but it's also a distraction from the real issue here.