from the art-of-the-grift dept

Oracle Doesn't Buy TikTok, But Gets A Lucrative Hosting Deal, And Trump & Friends Will Pretend This Means Something


The TikTok saga, which was insanely stupid to begin with, kicked into overdrive last month when President Trump issued a blatantly unconstitutional executive order that was designed to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to an American company. We had all sorts of questions about this, but effectively ByteDance had until this week to find a buyer. While Microsoft was rumored for a while, late last night Microsoft announced that its proposal had been rejected and the only competitor left standing was... wait for it... Oracle. This led many to conclude that Oracle was buying TikTok. That is not the case. But hold on, we'll get there.

There was one other serious bidder: Walmart. Last night the company claimed it was still interested in buying TikTok, but the White House rejected that plan, because it would have made it totally obvious that the "national security" pretense for demanding the sale was obvious bullshit. Nope, the White House said: it has to be sold to a "tech" company, so that the White House can stand by its totally unsubstantiated by evidence claims that TikTok's dancing teens represented a national security threat.

So, with Walmart blocked, and Microsoft's deal not accepted, that left Oracle. But immediately the descriptions of Oracle's involvement were... weird. They very clearly did not say anything about "buying" TikTok. Instead, Oracle put out a very short press release saying that it will "serve as the trusted technology provider" to TikTok. That's not how you describe a sale.

This is a hosting deal.

Oracle will just host TikTok on its wannabe, way-behind-the-competition, cloud platform. And Trump and his cult-like supporters will pretend this actually accomplishes something. Oracle's executive suite has long been vocal Trump supporters, so this basically dumps a giant hosting contract into Oracle's lap. ByteDance will effectively still own TikTok, and Trump will pretend he's done something. For what it's worth, this is the second big Oracle cloud deal done in the last few months, with the previous one being with videoconferencing company Zoom.

As Russell Brandom over at the Verge notes, this deal "accomplished nothing." ByteDance still owns TikTok (and, according to reports, retains full control over TikTok's algorithm). As former Yahoo and Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos points out, literally none of the concerns people have raised about TikTok (most of which were bogus in the first place) are solved by an Oracle hosting deal:

As Stamos points out, accepting this deal would show that it's nothing but "pure grift," basically dumping a forced contract into Oracle's lap, a company which (again) has had an executive licking Trump's boots since day one.

And people can't even truly argue that Oracle will somehow make whatever little "private" data there is on TikTok "more secure." It's not like it was just months ago that an Oracle-owned subsidiary, BlueKai, leaked data that tracked users all over the web, exposing billions of records.

In other words, the whole thing was a joke. Like so much of this administration it was performative nonsense by Trump, who was mad that some kids made him look foolish on TikTok, combined with anti-Chinese racism, to push for a deal he had no legal right to push for, resulting in a weird scramble that doesn't accomplish what he wanted, but does shift a bunch of money to some of his vocal and wealthy supporters. The "Art of the Grift."

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