Microsoft Sells Its Soul To Buy TikTok

What a pathetic, shameful capitulation

Last night, I stayed up going over the Microsoft blog post on the TikTok situation as if it were the Zapruder film. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. I thought I must be parsing it wrong. This was a massive US corporation that seemed to be writing a post as if a student on assignment. The teacher in this case, the US President.

Regardless of the content, the ramifications of such an action seemed awfully dire. And then there was the content which was… well, worrisome. But as I kept reading, I couldn’t come up with any other explanation other than Trump asking for such a post, and Microsoft acquiescing. And so I published my thoughts and went to bed certain I would wake up to a world of much more nuanced (or crazy) takes on the situation.

Instead, the opposite happened.

Not only did reports confirm that Trump was behind the post and the messaging therein, he himself confirmed as much. And that included the most damning part: he was demanding that Treasury get a cut of any deal between Microsoft and TikTok. The US Treasury. He just… said it.

But actually, Trump being Trump, he didn’t just say it. He boasted about saying it. Because he believes his government should get a cut of any such deal. A finder’s fee, as it were. He’s negotiating as if it’s a real estate deal. Because of course he is. And that’s the nice way of putting it. The less nice way: a shake down. Extortion.

Microsoft should be ashamed of themselves for going along with this. They’re not just trying to win a deal, they’re enabling a President to paint gray ethical if not legal lines which had been black and white. And it’s especially surprising and disheartening because Satya Nadella has spent much of the past decade digging Microsoft out of the hole in which Steve Ballmer placed them. And their chief legal officer, Brad Smith, has become a key leader on many important issues with regard to ethics and technology. With one blog post, the company just threw that all away.

Shame.


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