TikTok and WeChat Bans

Emily Puchalski, Lenses Writer

On August 6th, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order calling for the ban of Chinese apps ‘TikTok’ and ‘WeChat’. This was due to worries that the applications collect data from American users that could be used by the Chinese government. The only solution to avert that problem at the time, was if an American company were to purchase the apps from their current owners which have been headquartered in China. 

TikTok, owned by a Beijing based company, ByteDance, is a social media platform and video app. With over 100 million monthly active users in the United States and 800 million active users worldwide, it is the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store. Formerly known as Musical.ly, the app has experienced extreme success in the past 2 years, as it received celebrity endorsements and climbed the ranks in the app store. TikTok lets you watch, share, and create videos from your device. It is full of videos with dancing, recipes, DIYs, sports, make-up tutorials and more. This wide range of content is what makes it appealing to many teens and young adults. It has also recently gained popularity as a business tool for small businesses to advertise on. 

‘WeChat’, which was developed by Tecent, is an app with many purposes. It has served as a messaging platform, social media, news source, and mobile payment app. The banning of this app would be detrimental to Asian Americans living in the U.S. As many apps like Facebook, Google, YouTube and WhatsApp are banned in China, this leaves them with little communication with people in the United States and beyond. This is where WeChat comes in, as it is used by families around the globe to stay in touch. Many relatives also use it for the transfer of money to family in China, since the app also serves as a payment gateway. American business owners with clients in China worry about losing business if they do not have contact with their customers. WeChat is a bridge from China, to the outside world, and many worry about the effects of if it were to crumble. 

Since the President’s executive order, many new revelations have been made in the process of buying and selling the apps. Downloads of TikTok were set to be banned starting midnight on Sunday, September 20th. This crisis was avoided because of the President’s approval of an ongoing business deal with ByteDance and American company, Oracle. This deal would mean that Oracle, partnered with Walmart, would own 20% of a new company, TikTok Global. Part of this plan would be that all US user data would be kept in the United States, on its cloud platform. 

We still await a response from the Chinese government, if they will approve of this deal. Many TikTok content creators and users were overwhelmed with joy when seeing U.S. General Manager’s, Vannessa Pappas’ message. She stated that TikTok is here for “the long run” and “not planning on going anywhere”. Whereas, the ban on WeChat has been halted by a federal court in response to the plaintiff’s evidence that it would threaten the First Amendment rights of users.