Is TikTok getting banned? The Trump administration deadline has passed, and TikTok is suing. Here’s the latest on what we know about TikTok’s fate.
On August 6th, Donald Trump published two executive orders banning transactions within TikTok and WeChat. Both apps are owned by Chinese companies, ByteDance and Tencent, respectively. TikTok’s short-form video format is exploding in growth, while WeChat is used to communicate with mainland China.
The two orders declared that TikTok and WeChat would be blocked from US app stores on September 20th. The orders cited ‘national security concerns’ as the reason. Earlier, on August 14th, Trump clarified that TikTok was facing a total ban if it did not sell itself to a US company by November 14th.
The US government’s lawyers assert that TikTok acts as a ‘mouthpiece’ for the Chinese Communist Party. It says TikTok promotes the CCP’s agenda and messaging. TikTok denies all of these allegations and has released a transparency report to try and combat them, but TikTok has been caught doing shady things, like accessing Android user data and iOS users’ clipboards.
So is TikTok getting banned? Not right now, but it’s unclear what the future holds.
On September 27th, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s order to remove TikTok from app stores. The judge granted an injunction against the order, saying ByteDance could suffer irreparable harm if it went into effect. After that ruling, TikTok has pledged to “maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement.”
TikTok can evade a ban in the United States by selling itself to a US company. Microsoft was rumored to be an interested buyer, but its bid was denied. Trump has approved a preliminary deal with Oracle and Walmart, with each taking minority stakes in the company. TikTok has over 100 million users in the United States.
So TikTok isn’t getting banned just yet, but the Trump administration could appeal the injunction. The November 14th deadline is still technically intact for ByteDance to finalize a deal, and details on the Oracle/Walmart deal are still being ironed out. But TikTok is facing pressure from other countries, too.
India has already banned TikTok within the country, along with 58 other Chinese-owned apps. Pakistan followed suit just last week, with the country’s telecom regulator banning the app. Pakistan’s regulatory body called the app “immoral” and said it contained “indecent” content.
Pakistan banned dating apps like Tinder and Grindr for the same reason last month. TikTok was installed 43 million times in Pakistan before the ban. It was TikTok’s 12th largest market.
(Update: Pakistan has now reversed its TikTok ban, citing reassurances from the Chinese company related to content moderation.)
Elsewhere, Mexico may soon be considering a ban as several TikTok-related incidents have sparked violence. Most recently, a woman in Mexico was shot in the head while staging a fake kidnapping for a TikTok video. The state attorney general, César Augusto Peniche Espejel says the men who did it believed the gun wasn’t loaded.
Incidents like this put pressure on governments to stop needless deaths. TikTok is safe in the U.S. for now, but other countries may continue banning the app.