Trump Administration Considers Global TikTok App Store Ban
A new document outlining the potential scope of President Trump's TikTok ban suggests Apple could be forced to remove the short-form video sharing platform from its App Store in China.
Trump last week signed an executive order that would officially ban any U.S. transactions with TikTok if its Chinese parent ByteDance does not reach a deal to divest it to a U.S. company in 45 days.
According to a White House document sent out to supporters and seen by Reuters, the ban aims to cut off U.S. business transactions, disrupt TikTok's funding, and eliminate its ability to operate within the United States.
"Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores ... purchasing advertising on TikTok, and accepting terms of service to download the TikTok app onto a user device," the document states.
The document is believed to have been written the same week as two executive orders signed by Trump that target Chinese businesses, one of which is Tencent, the owner of the massively popular WeChat platform.
The document does not explicitly mention WeChat, but if the Trump administration decides to subject it to the same measures, the consequences for Apple could be huge.
WeChat is heavily relied upon in China as a messaging platform, as an interface for numerous other apps, and to make mobile transactions. WeChat is also widely used around the world and has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it was forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
TikTok could avoid a ban if it agrees sell off its U.S. operations to an American company. Microsoft has publicly confirmed its intention to purchase TikTok in the United States and is currently in discussions with ByteDance. Twitter has also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the service.
TikTok earlier this week said it intends to sue the Trump administration to keep operating in the US, and claimed the executive order is "based on pure speculation and conjecture."
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