TikTok and WeChat: Why the Trump administration shouldn’t ban foreign apps

After+President+Trump+passed+an+executive+order+to+ban+TikTok%2C+both+the+app+and+WeChat+will+be+removed+from+the+app+store+starting+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+20.+The+administration%27s+actions+can+be+attributed+to+fears+that+both+companies%2C+having+originated+in+China%2C+may+provide+access+points+for+foreign+interference+with+and+use+of+American%27s+personal+data.+

Natalie Cullen

After President Trump passed an executive order to ban TikTok, both the app and WeChat will be removed from the app store starting on Sunday, Sept. 20. The administration’s actions can be attributed to fears that both companies, having originated in China, may provide access points for foreign interference with and use of American’s personal data.

Natalie Cullen, Online Managing Editor

On Friday, Sept. 18, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that transactions relating to the mobile apps TikTok and WeChat would be banned. Starting on Sunday, Sept. 20 both apps will no longer be downloadable on app stores. President Trump believes that the applications pose a threat to citizens’ data and security due to their Chinese origin. 

Banning these applications is a direct violation of the First Amendment. It contradicts freedom of speech by limiting communication between people. 

TikTok, founded by Bytedance, is a platform used for sharing short user-made videos. TikTok has now launched a Transparency & Accountability Center, which is dedicated to showing users the data security features they have implicated. In an attempt to continue operations in the US, TikTok partnered with Oracle, an American technological corporation that handles data. 

WeChat is a messaging app commonly used to communicate with people abroad. There is texting, calling, and a “moment” feature that is similar to Instagram stories. People who emigrated from China often use the app to talk with friends and family members. The app is not widely used by Americans, but is also very common with exchange students and people who are traveling. If it were to be removed, many people would lose contact with their loved ones.

I believe that Trump’s decision in reference to TikTok is biased because a lot of anti-Trump propaganda is spread throughout the platform. TikTok is often used to share opinions on controversial issues. Back in August, the app sued the administration for ignoring their efforts to address the security issues that arose.

While there is a potential security risk when downloading these apps, users should know and decide whether or not they want to do so. United States government officials are already banned from using TikTok, which to some degree makes sense. People who do not work for the government or have any classified information stored on their devices should not be unable to perform transactions. 

A common argument against TikTok and WeChat is that they both have Chinese malware and policies. However, this is not the case. Both apps have their own U.S.-based headquarters and are drastically different from the Chinese versions. Both companies employ thousands of American tech workers. Banning the apps would lead to many job losses.

Overall, breaching the First Amendment by banning apps from users is against what the United States stands for. Our efforts to preserve our rights will continue as we call for the order to be overturned.