October 29, 2020

Trump Admin to Ban TikTok, WeChat From U.S. App Stores

TikTok would also face some changes, but would still be allowed to function until Nov. 12, Mr. Ross said, at which point it would face the same ban as WeChat if there was no deal that satisfied the administration’s concerns.

“As to TikTok, the only real change as of Sunday night will be users won’t have access to improved updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” he said.

That delay will allow users of the popular social media app — who are primarily young — to continue using the service ahead of the Nov. 4 election. TikTok has increasingly become a political force, with its users posting in support of their favored candidates and offering commentary on current events. It has also been utilized as a political tool — hundreds of teenage TikTok users claimed credit for low turnout at a rally for Mr. Trump in Tulsa, Okla. earlier this year.

The actions take aim at two of China’s most popular and successful tech exports, which knit together nearly two billion people worldwide.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance but does not directly operate in China, has become a wildly popular platform for sharing viral videos in the United States. WeChat, which is owned by Tencent Holdings, functions as a chat app, a payment platform and a news source for people in China and the Chinese diaspora around the world. It is also a conduit for Chinese propaganda and surveillance.

As of Friday morning, the Chinese government had not issued any statements, and it was not immediately clear if China would retaliate. China has long blocked access to such American social media as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp that it cannot readily monitor or censor.

The prohibitions raise the question of whether Google and Apple, the major operators of American app stores, could sue the administration.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/business/trump-tik-tok-wechat-ban.html

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