Student Opinion: Trump is Banning TikTok And WeChat For Control And Money

(Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

By Xin Ye

As election day nears in, the Trump administration has attempted to ban two of China’s most popular and successful tech exports, which connect roughly two billion people worldwide, saying both TikTok and WeChat are potential threats to U.S. national security after trying and failing to purchase the two apps from China.

The pressure to ban is really to take control of the two apps as China negotiates with the U.S. on deals to keep TikTok and WeChat up as international platforms. 

WeChat is not only a social media app for international communication, but it is also well-known for its in-app functions like money transactions, news, or even something lighthearted, like flower recognition. Many people worldwide use this app on a daily basis.

TikTok, a video app, which is owned by ByteDance has reached a 2 billion downloads milestone this April globally. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic happening, there has been a growing number of people who have moved their jobs online, using TikTok as a platform to create content or sell and purchase certain products.

Like any platform, the higher the number of active users, the more money the companies will make. I think it just so happens to be this year because of the pandemic and with most people online, the Trump administration has seized this opportunity to build our economy, but the method is unethical. 

Because normal business negotiations were rejected by the Chinese Communist Party, the Trump administration chose to ban the apps to force Chinese companies to compromise. This act is wrong since the government is abusing its power to benefit itself whilst not providing citizens the correct information that the apps are actually relatively safe to use. 

I believe the government has the responsibility to protect its people, but when the action of protecting is used as an excuse to take what is not theirs, it is unacceptable. On top of that, worsening international relationships for the economy’s sake and devaluing the successful apps is simply wrong.

According to analytics provider App Annie, TikTok has about 100 million users on a quarterly basis, and WeChat had about 3.3 million monthly active users in the United States as of August.

Banning TikTok and WeChat is not as simple as it sounds, especially after not being able to purchase them. This is because the executive order is to protect citizens’ privacy. If that is the case, then what is the wait as China and the United States agree upon shared providers for these two apps. 

Actions and words contradict as the U.S. tries to own a part of what was once seen as threats.

However, The New York Times reports that cybersecurity experts have debated the extent to which the bans would address national security threats. Propaganda is everywhere, not just through these two apps, because “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” 

I do not see the United States banning other apps with similar intents, but the attitude towards TikTok and WeChat is continuing to escalate, pushing Chinese companies to sacrifice a portion of their revenue in order for the apps to remain available in the U.S. 

If professional cybersecurity experts do not identify TikTok or WeChat as being a threat to the U.S., what is this order all about? Both apps have been around for many years. TikTok was first launched in 2016, while WeChat was developed by Tencent and released in 2011. 

After years of the apps growing popularity across the world, the Trump administration has finally made the decision to ban them. Before the news of banning, the Trump administration wanted to purchase the apps, which did not go through, leading to forceful measures through banning and waits for responses.

The Trump administration also continues to use American citizens’ privacy as an excuse for wrongdoings.

National security is important, but if there is no clear threat and the United States is a free country, shouldn’t we all have the freedom to access apps like TikTok and WeChat however and whenever we want?

According to the Washington Post, current and previous administration officials said they could not recall another example of the U.S. government prohibiting information technology on this scale. Perhaps no other apps are as popular as TikTok and WeChat on an international scale, where there are millions of daily active users, which brings a huge amount of income for the apps’ owners. 

Not only did some users sue the federal government over this ban, but some judges like US District Judge Carl Nichols are also working together to prevent this executive order from passing, saying the government “must file a response to a request by TikTok for a preliminary injunction or delay the order.” 

China has become a major focus of the presidential election. From the beginning of the pandemic to the present, the relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated substantially, and this attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat has only aggravated tensions further.

As of now, I think the chances of TikTok and WeChat getting banned are very slim, but the uncertainty is making many users worrisome. Despite attempts from the Trump administration to proceed with the ban of TikTok and WeChat for a number of weeks, both are still available to use and download today. 

The original date set for WeChat used to be Sept. 20, but it is still not banned. TikTok will be available to all until Nov. 12, and will continue to leave the app up and running until after the presidential election in the U.S.

I think the dates will get President Trump more support from younger voters than if both apps were banned before the election because a vast majority of users from these apps are young, especially for TikTok. Therefore, if the ban were to take place before the election date, President Trump might lose votes from many young American citizens.

It also provides a chance for Oracle (Integrated Cloud Applications and Platform Services) alongside Walmart in that consortium, to negotiate terms to take over the operation. Once Oracle becomes the provider of TikTok, they will receive a large amount of money from the platform with millions of users. This move is extremely clever, but the intention is still disappointing. 

If the main reason for the ban is to protect American citizens’ privacy, then why is it so difficult to find evidence that TikTok and WeChat are threats as they collect users’ data? Also, if the apps really do threaten U.S. national security, then why is there a chance for deals to be made just so the providers of the apps can be changed to U.S companies?

TikTok and WeChat are not real threats, and the only difference now is that the U.S. is in control of the two apps, users’ data and receiving money. It’s just killing two stones with one bird.

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1 Comment

  1. Keith Olsen

    Yes, because we all know China opens up its markets to all foreign products and never bans or puts any limits and/or stipulations on the use or rollout of those businesses or applications.

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