The US Department of Commerce will force the removal of popular Chinese social media apps WeChat and TikTok from mobile stores as of Sunday, September 20.
Following September 20, US users will no longer be able to download these apps from the iOS and Google Play stores. If you have the app on your phone after Sept 20, you will still be able to use them. Neither app will receive any further updates, which may hurt functionality as time goes on.
But wait, there’s more
TikTok and WeChat will be banned entirely in November if they cannot satisfy the Trump Administration’s security demands. At the time of writing, US company Oracle is in talks to become TikTok’s “trusted tech partner” in the US. Should Oracle be able to buy into TikTok and make the necessary changes, the app will live on.
The Department of Commerce’s stated reasons for the ban can be read in full right here. According to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the order is designed to “safeguard the national security of the United States.”
News of the ban comes after Trump signed Executive Orders to halt TikTok and WeChat’s business in the US. If not sold by their Chinese parent companies ByteDance and Tencent, the apps would be banned. The move caused no small amount of confusion as Tencent’s holdings also include a large number of video game companies from around the world, including Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite.
Microsoft then entered the fray, attempting to purchase TikTok for itself, but later stated that ByteDance was not open to selling Microsoft its US operations.
The war at home
So what does this mean for you, an Australian TikTok user or creator? Nothing yet. The app will still be available and receiving updates locally. The aforementioned bans will affect users in the US and the US alone. However, it is worth local users keeping an eye on, as the ban will impact American creators on the platform and likely lead to copycat bans in other countries around the world. Australia prefers to be in lockstep with the US on security matters, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see the Morrison government move to implement a similar ban should Trump get what he wants.