Donald Trump issued twin executive orders today banning dealings with TikTok and WeChat, two social media platforms that are owned by Chinese companies Byte Dance (TikTok) and Tencent (WeChat). TikTok is a video sharing social media platform while WeChat is sort of a hybrid of Facebook, Instagram, and Apple Pay as people use it to message people and send money to friends as well as buy things at stores that accept WeChat pay.
The rationale behind the bans is that TikTok and WeChat pose security risks to the United States via their data being shared with the Chinese government. However, it’s unclear how much data they actually share with China if any. Mobile security experts don’t think TikTok or WeChat are any more invasive in their data collecting than Facebook and Google. So, it really does seem like they are being targeted purely because they are China based companies. Not because there is hard evidence that they are collecting data in malicious ways.
I don’t know as much about TikTok, but on the surface, it seems pretty harmless to me. As for WeChat, while I’ve never downloaded it, as one who is learning Chinese, I’ve learned a lot about it and how intricate it is to life in China. If you move to China, it’s a must get. Personally, this seems to be nothing more than Trump trying to fire up his base and show that he’s tough on China. That’s all. I’m not nearly as cynical of the Chinese government as his administration is.