Real estate billionaire, former Dodgers owner eyes buying TikTok

Real estate billionaire Frank McCourt is organizing a bid to buy TikTok, as the app’s China-based parent company ByteDance faces down a potential U.S. ban if it doesn’t sell the platform within the next year.

McCourt, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and executive chair of investment firm McCourt Global, said Wednesday that he is putting together a bid for his organization Project Liberty to acquire TikTok “with the goal of placing people and data empowerment at the center of the platform’s design and purpose.”

He is proposing to migrate the popular social media platform to a digital open-source protocol, according to a press release. 

“The foundation of our digital infrastructure is broken, and it’s time to fix it,” McCourt said in a statement. “We can, and must, do more to safeguard the health and well-being of our children, families, democracy and society.”

“We see this potential acquisition as an incredible opportunity to catalyze an alternative to the current tech model that has colonized the internet,” he added.

Project Liberty, which McCourt Global describes as “a far-reaching, $500 million initiative to transform how the internet works,” already has an open-source protocol at its fingertips.

The organization oversees the Decentralized Social Networking Protocol, an “open protocol and potential standard for social media,” according to its website. 

McCourt’s bid to buy TikTok has the support of Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, according to Wednesday’s press release.

“The web I invented was to provide power and value to individuals, which they do not have at the moment,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “Users should have an ability to control their own data, to share it with other people and organizations as they choose.”  

“A TikTok utilizing open internet protocols, such as Solid, will embrace the critical values of privacy, data sovereignty, and user mental health,” he added, referring to the open-source protocol that he leads. 

McCourt is not the only businessman looking to acquire TikTok. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who previously said he was putting together a group to buy the app, affirmed last week that he is still “very interested.”

The interest in TikTok comes in the wake of a new law, signed by President Biden last month, requiring ByteDance to sell the app within about a year or face a ban on U.S. networks and online app stores.

However, TikTok and ByteDance are suing to block the law, which they argue violates the First Amendment.

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