The President of the United States, Donald Trump, signed on Thursday night (6) an executive order that officializes the banning of two services originating in China: the social network TikTok and the messenger WeChat.
According to the document, both are dangerous because they threaten “national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the United States”. The White House has given 45 days for both applications to be negotiated by the original developers. After the deadline, which ends on September 20, any transaction with ByteDance – which is the developer of TikTok – or Tencent – responsible for WeChat – is prohibited in North American territory.
A few weeks ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already suggested that Chinese applications could be banned in the country. It is possible that the order will be challenged in court by the opposition or by the companies involved. In addition, the document does not detail what type of operation will be prohibited.
Understand the orders
TikTok was Trump’s biggest target in recent days, accused of extracting connection and browsing data from users and sending that information to the Communist Party of China, which would have access to information even from government officials and contractors. This could be used not only for spying but for crimes like fraud and blackmail. The platform was also criticized for censoring content based on requests from local authorities.
In the case of WeChat, the criticisms are similar, but they also involve the surveillance of Chinese citizens who visit or live in the United States. The Tencent platform is primarily a messenger, but it has numerous other functions, including a payment system.
The possible ban on TikTok was already expected and, in recent days, Microsoft has officially started negotiations to acquire the social network – either in the North American operations or even in the control of all global services.
Judicially, the situation involving Tencent is even more complicated. After all, the Chinese giant has investments in shares in several companies of North American origin in industries such as cinema, music, and games – but, according to the official text, only business involving WeChat would be affected.
Mark Zuckerberg worried about banning TikTok
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not usually friendly with TikTok but is concerned about the possible ban on the social network in the United States. The executive commented on the matter during a meeting with employees, according to Buzzfeed News.
The commander of the world’s largest social network said he understands the White House’s concerns with security but believes that the ban could have bad consequences for the future. Zuckerberg said the matter should be treated with caution.
“I think it’s a bad long-term precedent and it needs to be treated with the utmost care and seriousness, regardless of the solution,” commented the executive, saying that the ban could open loopholes for such laws in more countries. “I’m really concerned … it could very well have long-term consequences in other countries around the world.”
The Facebook boss also said that banning TikTok in the United States could be beneficial in the short term, as it could boost Instagram Reels during its launch. However, this small victory can come with a bitter taste.
According to Zuckerberg, the thought that the ban on TikTok in the United States “helps Facebook” is superficial. The executive believes the ban could be positive for Reels’ long-term cost figures, but the consequences for the future could be more frightening.
With more than two billion downloads, TikTok is one of the most popular social networks today and is targeted by the White House for being headquartered in China. The United States government believes that the application may pose threats to security and privacy.
The ban on TikTok in the United States may go into effect from September 15, but the social network said it will go to court to try to reverse the situation. Microsoft also took advantage of the tense moment to demonstrate its interest in acquiring the application and its entire global operation.