President Donald Trump signed two executive orders late Thursday night, hitting TikTok and WeChat, two popular social media networks developed by Chinese companies. The orders impose restrictions that go into effect in 45 days and cite security concerns. The move comes while the rift between the U.S. and China grows deeper. On social media, the move was met with a spirited response, with some suggesting this was an odd issue for Trump to focus on while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage across the country.
The orders bar TikTok and WeChat from making any transactions with anyone or for property within U.S. jurisdiction, reports the New York Times. The order does not cover any talks or contracts that began before the 45 days end. This means TikTok's discussions with Microsoft will not be affected. Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok, which was made by ByteDance.
In the White House's Thursday night announcement, Trump accused ByteDance and Tencent, which developed WeChat, of helping the Chinese Community Party obtain Americans' information and keep track of Chinese citizens abroad. The administration also accused the two social networks of spreading disinformation campaigns to help the Chinese government.
"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," Trump's executive order reads in part. "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."
Why is Trump acting more quickly to ban TikTok than deal with the coronavirus...genuinely sad, confused, DISGUSTED, and concerned 😒— Nicole Жardashian (@trukardashfan) August 7, 2020
In the executive order on the "threat posed by WeChat," Trump accused the social network of similar charges. "WeChat, like TikTok, also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive and may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party," the executive order on WeChat reads. "These risks have led other countries, including Australia and India, to begin restricting or banning the use of WeChat. The United States must take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat to protect our national security."prevnext
Well, that's an important use of his time. pic.twitter.com/pEwNnz7m8e— Uriel (@sickendun2death) August 7, 2020
Last week, Microsoft announced it was in talks to acquire TikTok. Trump stepped into the discussions this week, setting a Sept. 15 deadline for the company to buy the social network. Then, Trump said any deal needs to include a "substantial amount of money" sent to the U.S. government. "Right now they don't have any rights unless we give it to them. So if we're going to give them the rights, then ... it has to come into this country," the president said, reports CNN. "It's a great asset, but it's not a great asset in the United States unless they have approval in the United States."prevnext
Wish US and China could have better relations. So that all our technologies can be used. TikTok and WeChat should just spin off into independent entities if they want to do business in the United States. No need to sell to big tech like Microsoft, they're already too big.— Gina Bennett (@TheGinaBennett) August 7, 2020
Meanwhile, Russia has bounties out on our military forces, thousands of Americans have died from Covid 19, our economy is a wreck with high unemployment, corruption is rampant but wow thanks for banning Tiktok. 😡😡😡— Jenna Olbermann (@bibliophile68) August 7, 2020
Seems everyone is confused about the wording of the EO and whether it bans just WeChat and Tiktok or all subsidiaries under Tencent. 🥴
Not to mention ofc China will retaliate.
So good job, Trump. We really needed an international economic incident on top of everything else.— Kay⁷ 🐣 Blossom (@Hedgegi) August 7, 2020
To translate: Trump has ordered a ban on US transactions with Tencent, which is the world's largest video game company, one of the world's most valuable companies, one of the world's largest social media companies, and one of the world's largest venture capital firms.— Nick Feik (@NickFeik) August 7, 2020