Microsoft Said to Be in Talks to Buy TikTok, as Trump Weighs Curtailing App

In response to the heightened scrutiny from Washington, TikTok in May hired a top Disney executive, Kevin Mayer to be its chief executive. The app has also pledged to publicly reveal the algorithm that powers its app.

In addition, TikTok has bulked up its lobbying operation in Washington. With help from prominent investors like SoftBank and General Atlantic, it has hired the former head of the Internet Association, a trade group that represents companies like Google and Facebook, and staff members from prominent members from Congress.

The company has signed on more than 35 lobbyists, including David J. Urban, a former West Point classmate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an ally of Mr. Trump. The company’s lobbyists have highlighted TikTok’s American investors and Mr. Mayer’s hire.

Sensing weakness, rivals like Facebook have homed in on lawmakers’ distrust of TikTok’s Chinese ownership. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has said that American companies like his would suffer if the government put them at a competitive disadvantage against TikTok.

On Wednesday, with the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google testifying in front of Congress about their market power, Mr. Mayer defended TikTok while pledging to do right by the U.S. government.

“The entire industry has received scrutiny, and rightly so. Yet we have received even more scrutiny due to the company’s Chinese origins,” he said in a statement. “We believe it is essential to show users, advertisers, creators, and regulators that we are responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.”

Cfius has previously ordered companies to divest their acquisitions. Congress had expanded the panel’s purview in 2018 to include reviews of transactions involving “sensitive user data,” The change was spurred by concerns that foreign ownership of data gathered by apps and internet sites could threaten national security.

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