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Twitter and TikTok had talks about potential combination of social media services, report says

Could a Twitter and TikTok merger be in the works?

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that San Francisco-based Twitter had preliminary talks about a potential combination with TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, it was unclear whether Twitter will pursue a deal with TikTok, which would face significant challenges. 

Twitter and TikTok declined to comment when reached by USA TODAY Saturday. TikTok said it doesn't comment on "market rumors."

President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Thursday blocking all U.S. transactions with TikTok’s Chinese parent corporation, ByteDance, the latest move by the administration to force the video-sharing app to sever its ties to Beijing. 

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The order, which is likely to face legal challenges, would bar “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd" in an effort to “address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain.”

The president signed a separate executive order banning transactions with China-based tech giant Tencent, which owns the app WeChat, citing similar national security concerns. 

He claims the apps “capture vast swaths of information from its users” which could allow "the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information."

Microsoft confirmed on Aug. 2 that it would continue to negotiate a purchase of TikTok's U.S. operations after a conversation between CEO Satya Nadella and Trump.

"Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020," Microsoft said in a blog post. "During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President."

The tech giant said its proposed "new structure would build on the experience TikTok users currently love, while adding world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections."

Microsoft said it "would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred."

Trump has also signaled that he expects the U.S. Treasury to receive a cut from the potential Microsoft purchase of TikTok, arguing the U.S. made the deal possible. He has not clarified how that would work or whether he has the legal authority to demand payment to the government.

Contributing: Josh Rivera, John Fritze, Jefferson Graham, David Jackson, Savannah Behrmann and Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY

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