TikTok, WeChat Ban from U.S. App Stores Set for Sunday

Tami Abdollah

Tami Abdollah was dot.LA's senior technology reporter. She was previously a national security and cybersecurity reporter for The Associated Press in Washington, D.C. She's been a reporter for the AP in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times and for L.A.'s NPR affiliate KPCC. Abdollah spent nearly a year in Iraq as a U.S. government contractor. A native Angeleno, she's traveled the world on $5 a day, taught trad climbing safety classes and is an avid mountaineer. Follow her on Twitter.

TikTok, WeChat Ban from U.S. App Stores Set for Sunday

The Trump administration is ordering TikTok and WeChat be banned from all U.S. mobile app stores as of Sunday, effectively pulling one of the hottest apps in America from the reach of interested new users.

The yanking of the two apps from U.S. mobile stores come after the U.S. Department of Commerce detailed on Friday exactly what President Donald Trump's Aug. 6 executive order banning "transactions" with TikTok means. Trump's ban prohibits "any provision of service to distribute or maintain" the apps in U.S. mobile app stores, the department said.


Trump issued the order over national security concerns that TikTok is sharing user data with the Chinese Communist Party and has pushed for the company's sale to a U.S.-based company.

He is set to decide on whether a deal that would make Oracle ByteDance's "trusted technology provider" is good enough to allay his security concerns. CNBC reported that the deal involved Oracle having a minority stake of less than 20% in the new global TikTok, and that ByteDance hopes to do an initial public offering on the U.S. stock exchange to address ownership concerns.

A TikTok spokesperson said Friday the company disagrees with the Commerce Department decision and is "disappointed" that it will be blocking new app downloads starting Sunday and then banning the use of the app in the U.S. starting November 12.


"Our community of 100 million U.S. users love TikTok because it's a home for entertainment, self-expression and connection, and we're committed to protecting their privacy," the spokesperson said. "We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the U.S. of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods."

Vanessa Pappas, the interim head of TikTok, said on Twitter Friday that this type of ban would be bad for the industry and invited Facebook and Instagram to publicly join its challenge and support their litigation against the Trump administration.

"This is a moment to put aside our competition and focus on core principles like freedom of expression and due process of law," she wrote.

TikTok said that in its proposal to the U.S. it's committed to "unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and U.S. government oversight of U.S. data security. Plus, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the U.S., which would include all services and data serving U.S. consumers.

TikTok's disappearance from Apple's U.S. app store and Google Play would mean that users would lose out on any security updates, general updates or maintenance for the app. That's benign enough, except that users can be targeted by bad actors through any unpatched security vulnerabilities in the future.

"An abandoned app that is no longer available from the respective app store is an app that can no longer be updated to address bugs or vulnerabilities," cloud security company Wandera wrote in a recent report. "This means they are now in a prime position to be exploited by hackers, offering fake updates, or targeting known vulnerabilities that were never patched."

TikTok ranks fourth among free apps offered in Apple's U.S. app store. Data analytics firm Sensor Tower said it sees no evidence the news has caused a rush on installs, though there's plenty of anecdotal data showing increased interest.

Sensor Tower reported that the threat of Tiktok's ban resulted in a spike of downloads for its competitors in July. TikTok's monthly active users have grown across the U.S. app store and in Google Play by 51% from January to August, and increased slightly since June despite the threat of the ban.


___

Reporter Sam Blake contributed to this report.


Do you have a story that needs to be told? My DMs are open on Twitter @latams. You can also email me at tami(at)dot.la, or ask for my contact on Signal, for more secure and private communications.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

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Christian Hetrick

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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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