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TikTok and WeChat users better start looking for an alternative platform and should do so soon. Unless something changes, the Chinese-based apps TikTok and WeChat will be banned in the United States starting next month.
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok.”President Donald Trump
In the executive order, Trump made it clear he believes the widespread popularity of these apps in the United States constitutes a national emergency.
He argues that parent companies ByteDance and Tencent are based in China and likely under the Chinese government’s thumb. When people use these social platforms, their data is being captured by these Chinese companies, which may be sharing this information with Chinese authorities.
“TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”President Donald Trump
To keep the US safe from the Chinese government’s prying eyes, Trump is banning both TikTok and WeChat starting in 45 days.
The order prohibits “any transaction by any person” with ByteDance or its subsidiaries. This provision could mean Apple and Google would have to remove the apps from their respective app stores. This executive order follows a unanimous Senate vote that prohibited TikTok from being installed on government devices.
Right now, the ban is focused only on TikTok and WeChat, but it could have broader ramifications if the scope of the ban is expanded. The messaging app WeChat is owned by Chinese-based Tencent, which also owns Riot Games and has a significant investment in Fortnite developer Epic Games.
It’s interesting to note that the executive order was worded so it banned transactions with parent company ByteDance and not the TikTok app. This opens the door for TikTok to continue to operate under the ownership of an American company, such as Microsoft. The Redmond technology giant reportedly is in talks with ByteDance to acquire the company’s U.S.-based assets to avoid the future ban.