President Donald Trump has made good on his threat and signed two executive orders banning not only TikTok, but also WeChat in the U.S. over the next 45 days. As the New York Times reports, Trump accused WeChat, which is made by Tencent, and TikTok, which is made by ByteDance, of giving potential access to user data to the Chinese government, as well as spying on Chinese citizens abroad and engage in disinformation campaigns.
"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," Trump wrote. The pair of executive orders will bar any transactions with WeChat or TikTok by any person or involving any property that would be subject to the jurisdiction within the U.S. However, they would exclude any contract entered into before the 45-day window, which could be important if TikTok is eventually acquired by Microsoft.
Despite the order, the scope of the ban remains somewhat unclear. Though it does seem that it would have more far-reaching consequences for WeChat than for TikTok, which is used widely around the world as a means of communication, news and business app. It's also all-but-certain to escalate the already high tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments, who are currently engaged in a trade war, and often on the receiving end of the president's racist remarks regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has made numerous references to TikTok over the past several days, which has been cited for possible security concerns due to the amount of data collecting the app performs on its users. Amazon has banned the use of the app on any mobile device where someone also uses an official work email, though not on desktop or laptop computers.
Along with the ongoing conflict between Trump and China, there are more than a few theories behind the president's real issue behind the app. Some of these include the scores of TikTok users who apparently reserved seats at Trump's Tulsa rally back in June. Despite hundreds of thousands of RSVPs, only around 6,000 supporters actually showed up.
There's also comedian Sarah Cooper, who's achieved viral fame lip-syncing some of Trump's more gaffe-ridden audio clips. While she initially found success on TikTok, she has branched out to other platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. There's also Claudia Conway, the daughter of Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who's made a name for herself by posting her own anti-Trump content — much to her mother's disapproval.