Do you or your children use TikTok or WeChat? Enjoy them while you can because, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, you will no longer be able to download either app and their upgrades beginning on Sunday, September 20.
The Commerce Department gave the following reason for the ban: “In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders signed August 6, 2020, the Department of Commerce today announced a prohibition on transactions relating to mobile applications (apps) WeChat and TikTok to safeguard the national security of the United States.” (You can read the full statement by clicking here.) ByteDance owns TikTok, and Tencent Holdings owns WeChat. Both are Chinese companies.
TikTok is a short-form video format that features people uploading themselves lip-syncing, dancing, just being silly. It is incredibly popular with teens and young adults.
WeChat is a globally popular communication app that makes it possible to speak with anyone in the world for free. Those who do business in Asia typically use WeChat.
TikTok is the more complicated of the two issues. The Trump administration is forcing ByteDance to sell its interests to a U.S. concern. Currently, it appears that Oracle and possibly Wal-Mart will be the new owners. If Wal-Mart does become an owner, it will give the retailer unprecedented control over an app that generates massive revenues from sponsors. More importantly, TikTok is a significant portal for young influencers, which will help Wal-Mart secure intelligence on what brands and styles are trending before their competition.
If the TikTok deal goes through it will still face another hurdle: The Chinese government. They will need to sign-off on any deal so how this will all end up is up in the air.
My prediction is that the TikTok ban will be lifted very soon. The political consequences of cutting young people off from a favored website can create blowback at the ballot box. WeChat may be in for more long-term trouble because, as popular as it is, there are alternatives.
Stay tuned as this situation continues to unwind.