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Billionaire Frank McCourt Looks To TikTok And Revamp User Data Control; Gets Investor Backing


image ofTikTok app.

Billionaire Frank McCourt is gaining support in his bid to purchase TikTok, with a vision to create a new platform where users control their own data. This move comes amid increasing discussions about a potential TikTok US ban and concerns over TikTok user data collection and breaches. McCourt, the executive chairman of McCourt Global and founder of Project Liberty, emphasized that he is not interested in owning TikTok for its current operations but aims to build a safer, user-centric internet alternative.

“I don’t want to own TikTok,” McCourt told reporters on Thursday. “I want a new internet. A new, improved alternative to what we have.”

His proposal has attracted interest from private investors, pension funds, philanthropies, and parents who have lost children due to social media-related issues. These parents, concerned about data privacy and online safety, are particularly supportive of McCourt’s vision.

Sam Chapman, whose son Sammy died from a fentanyl overdose after buying drugs on Snapchat, believes McCourt’s safer internet model will appeal to many parents. “Once Frank’s built the infrastructure and the public finds out that there’s a safer way to go, a more profitable way to go, then the people will start coming,” Chapman said.

McCourt’s Project Liberty aims to create a healthier social media environment by ensuring that users own their data. The project is working with Guggenheim Securities and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis to facilitate the purchase of TikTok.

Despite ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, repeatedly stating that it will not sell the app and suing to block a law requiring it to divest by early next year, McCourt remains optimistic. He believes that if the courts rule against ByteDance, the company will have no choice but to sell. McCourt views his group as a “non-threatening buyer” primarily interested in TikTok’s community rather than its powerful algorithm.

“Our bet is they’re going to sell,” McCourt said. “Because remember, there’s a lot of American capital invested. Are they just going to wipe all that out?”

In addition to McCourt’s group, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also forming an investor group to potentially purchase TikTok. The TikTok sale price remains a contentious issue, given its high valuation and the political pressures surrounding the platform. McCourt criticized Mnuchin’s funding sources, highlighting that replacing Chinese investment with Saudi money does not solve the core issues of data exploitation and harm to children.

“If you replace Chinese money with Saudi money, what’s been solved here?” McCourt asked. “It’s the same exploitive model, scraping everybody’s data, aggregating it and making money and harming kids.”

With ongoing debates about a TikTok US ban and heightened scrutiny over TikTok user data breaches, McCourt’s proposal positions itself as a solution to ensure safer and more ethical management of user data.

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