RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Trump Administration is banning the download of Chinese-owned popular apps TikTok and WeChat from U.S app stores starting Sunday, September 20th.
TikTok has taken off during the pandemic as people seek to laugh while passing their time. Users post short video clips of themselves dancing, singing, acting, or anything else that is a form of entertainment.
The app currently has 80 million users in the United States, mostly teenagers and young adults, including Richmond native Teal Barber.
“If they’re not making TikToks, they’re definitely watching them right now,” Barber said.
Barber says the popular social media app is fun and has served as a positive outlet.
“It’s a very interesting time for an app like TikTok to be banned. You’re seeing so much creativity that people are starting to make during quarantine and that has been a big outlet for a lot people in this time,” Barber said.
The world is facing a pandemic where the status of many peoples employment uncertain. TikTok is a career and money maker for some users.
“After I got to a few million views on TikTok and a lot of likes, a lot of interaction, you start to make some money off of TikTok, so I do make money every day on TikTok. Nowhere near some of those big creators make,” Barber said.
Marcus Messner, Director of the Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU, who studies the influence and adoption of social media in journalism said TikTok stars who earn a living from monetizing the platform will look for another app.
“They are likely to shift to other social media platforms,” said Messner.
He explained why TikTok is in danger and the cause for the stricter access.
“TikTok is caught in a trade war between the United States and China. The Trump Administration has set its eyes on TikTok and so what’s happening is that from this weekend on, TikTok can’t be downloaded from the app stores anymore. Users can still use TikTok, but by Sunday there won’t be any updates to TikTok and you can’t do a new download of the app,” said Messner.
“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
You can read the Department of Commerce’s full statement, here.
Messner also mentioned the current administration’s interest in TikTok is uncommon.
“Trump has really focused in on TikTok. TikTok has also become a thorn in his side because TikTok users bought all the tickets to one of his rally, reserved all the tickets to one of his rallies so ever since then it really put a sight on TikTok,” said Messner. “A social media app caught in the middle of GOP politics is very unusual.”
Some supporters of the app are confused by the banning. Some say the general public should be able to weigh in on a topic that affects so many.
“It’s up to the customer to really know what they’re putting in the apps and it’s up to the country as well to come up with a solution that benefits everybody instead of just saying clear cut we can’t have the app,” Barber said.
The threat of a potential ban is having a big impact online especially for the million of young TikTokers who will be heading to the polls for the first time.
“The timing is peculiar right now because there is a deal in the making that an American company is going to take over the American business of TikTok,” said Messner.
The social media professor believes there will ultimately be a resolution. Messner and VCU gave more information on the impact of the ban on the university’s news site.
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