People’s Bid For TikTok

A better digital future will only be possible if people demand it and actively participate in building it. Project Liberty is building a consortium to purchase TikTok and rearchitect the platform to put people in control of their digital identities and data.

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Frank McCourt, Founder of Project Liberty and Executive Chairman of McCourt Global, announces that Project Liberty is building a consortium to purchase TikTok and rearchitect the platform to put people in control of their digital identities and data

Leading technologists and academics, including Jonathan Haidt, David Clark, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee express support for Project Liberty’s vision for a more open, inclusive and responsible internet

Frank McCourt, Founder of Project Liberty and Executive Chairman of McCourt Global, announced that Project Liberty is organizing a bid to acquire the popular social media platform TikTok in the U.S., with the goal of placing people and data empowerment at the center of the platform’s design and purpose.

Working in consultation with Guggenheim Securities, the investment banking and capital markets business of Guggenheim Partners, and Kirkland & Ellis, one of the world’s largest law firms, as well as world-renowned technologists, academics, community leaders, parents and engaged citizens, this bid for TikTok offers an innovative, alternative vision for the platform’s infrastructure – one that allows people to reclaim agency over their digital identities and data by proposing to migrate the platform to a new digital open-source protocol. In launching the bid, McCourt and his partners are seizing this opportunity to return control and value back into the hands of individuals and provide Americans with a meaningful voice, choice, and stake in the future of the web.

“The foundation of our digital infrastructure is broken, and it’s time to fix it. 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,” said Frank McCourt. “By bringing leading academics, technologists, behavioral scientists, psychologists and economic experts together with community partners, parents and citizens, we believe we can preserve – and enhance – the TikTok experience by giving individuals and creators on the platform the value and control they deserve regarding who has access to their data and how it is used. This country has long been the global driver of ground-breaking innovation, and I encourage anyone who’s interested in reclaiming your data from Big Tech to engage with us and take a step forward to redefine the future of the internet for the people.”

The vision this bid effort puts forward for TikTok is informed and supported by the work of Project Liberty, a far-reaching effort dedicated to building a stronger, healthier internet infrastructure. Founded through a half-billion-dollar investment from McCourt, Project Liberty leverages the research and technology expertise of its Project Liberty Institute – a global nonprofit organization with a network of collaborators including academic partners Georgetown University, Stanford University, and Sciences Po, as well as more than 90 civic organizations – and its technology labs team, which develops new and innovative solutions that aim to accelerate the transition to an open, inclusive data economy. Project Liberty’s activities include the release of the open-source Decentralized Social Networking Protocol (DSNP), a piece of digital public infrastructure which will serve as the bedrock of a more equitable web and support a new era of innovation that empowers people over platforms and serves the common good.

This bid for TikTok– driven by Project Liberty’s vision for our tech future – has already mobilized a uniquely diverse coalition of experts, citizens and activists, who recognize the challenges posed by our current digital infrastructure and believe in innovative technology solutions to address them. Supporters include:

“When it comes to our society’s relationship with technology, we’re at a tipping point, and Frank McCourt and Project Liberty understand the urgency of this issue. Their vision for TikTok, redesigned for healthier dynamics, is the type of innovative solution needed to move ahead in the digital age. Social media is not going away, but it is evolving, and McCourt wants it to evolve in ways that are far less harmful to children and teens than it is today.” –Jonathan Haidt, renowned social psychologist and author of New York Times bestseller “The Anxious Generation”

“This proposal has my support. The web I invented was to provide power and value to individuals, which they do not have at the moment. 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.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder of Inrupt, Director of the open-source protocol, Solid

“Today’s unregulated social media landscape allows platforms to target children and teens, promoting dangerous and addictive content to maximize their time online and drive profits for Big Tech companies. As the parent of a child who was victimized through social media, I fully support Frank McCourt’s and Project Liberty’s vision for TikTok, which allows users to access the incredible sharing power of the internet without subjecting youth and adults alike to exploitation and sacrificing our society’s collective wellbeing.” – Deb Schmill, Mother of Becca, Founder and President of the Becca Schmill Foundation

“Frank McCourt’s and Project Liberty’s proposal to purchase TikTok represents a dramatic and unique moment in the evolution of social media. Driven by a very different set of motivations than the ‘Big Tech’ providers of social media, this bid’s primary objective is to give individuals more control over their experience, control over how their data is used, and prevent harms, especially to younger users. This potential future for TikTok, with its reshaping using the capabilities of open-source protocols, such as DSNP, can be a powerful way for us to build a social media experience that benefits people while limiting manipulation and harm.” – David Clark, Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, DSNP Advisor

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