President Biden is throwing out Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat after the former administration fought hard to prohibit the apps over national security concerns

Trump TikTok
TikTok users in the US have been reacting to the news of a potential ban of the popular app for months.

  • President Biden signed an executive order rescinding a ban on TikTok and WeChat.
  • Trump signed a series of executive actions last year targeting the apps, whose parent companies are in China.
  • Biden directed the commerce secretary to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries.
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President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order revoking former President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban TikTok and WeChat in the US.

According to a press release shared with Insider, Biden’s executive order calls for Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to investigate apps with connections to foreign adversaries. The Associated Press and The New York Times also confirmed the news.

Biden was expected to abandon Trump’s plans to ban TikTok when he took office, and Wednesday’s executive order confirms as much.

“The administration is committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet and to protecting human rights online and offline, and to supporting a vibrant global digital economy,” a White House official told The Verge, which first reported the news.

Trump in 2020 had targeted both apps and sought to ban them because of their ownership by Chinese companies. Crackdown on Chinese apps was a tenet of Trump’s agenda, and his administration was concerned over Americans’ user data being passed along to the Party. Judges previously halted the bans, though Biden’s order rescinds them entirely.

TikTok did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Wednesday.

Trump’s attempt to ban TikTok has been a whirlwind affair

The video-sharing app soared in popularity in 2020 during the pandemic, and in June of last year, TikTok users said they signed up for thousands of tickets to a major Trump rally in Oklahoma, a rally they had no intention of attending. The teen users celebrated for having falsely inflated the expected turnout for the rally, preventing many from showing up.

Trump first signed an executive order for Bytedance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, to find a US buyer in mid-2020. The idea, according to the administration, was that by having American investors involved in the company, US user data would be better protected.

Then-President Trump also prohibited US companies from doing business with both Bytedance and WeChat, a popular messaging app in China. TikTok responded by suing the Trump administration.

Microsoft turned out to be an eager bidder for a majority stake in TikTok’s US assets. But the tech giant’s proposal fell apart and was replaced by one from Oracle, which is helmed by Larry Ellison, an outspoken Trump supporter. However, the deal was never finalized.

In September 2020, the US Commerce Department under Trump tried to ban new US downloads of TikTok, and the government threatens to ban the app’s functionality in November. Judges threw the bans out, however.

The president is, however, expanding on one of Trump’s executive orders that banned US investment in some Chinese companies, specifically ones whose surveillance technology is used by the Party’s military. The new order specifically aims to crack down on human rights abuse and zeroes in on technology used against the Uyghur Muslim minority and Hong Kong protesters.

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What is WeChat? Everything you need to know about the popular messaging app, including how to sign up

wechat ban trump order
WeChat is more than just a messaging app – you can also use it to make video and audio calls, translate text, and more.

  • WeChat is one of the world’s most popular social media messaging apps, and is similar to WhatsApp.
  • WeChat supports video, voice, and text chat and has unique features like localized translation.
  • To sign up for WeChat, an existing user will need to scan a QR code on your phone.
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With more than a billion monthly users, WeChat is one of the most popular social messaging apps in the world, especially in China.

No matter what country you’re in, WeChat is free to download  – but signing up for an account isn’t so easy.

What is WeChat?

Launched in 2011 and owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeChat has grown from a messaging app to become a unique social media hybrid. Services like Facebook are banned in China, so WeChat is the standard for business and communication.

 

WeChat supports the basics like voice chatting, picture messaging, and video calling. You can also share your real-time location with friends, play mini-games with each other, and post to a Story-like feature called “moments.” 

It also has a feature called WeChat Out that lets you call international landlines at a low rate. This comes with a localization feature that will translate messages and content between 20 different languages. 

However, it’s not nearly as secure as other messaging apps like Signal or Telegram. This is especially the case in China, where certain topics are actively censored and Tencent shares user data with the government. The app doesn’t have any sort of encryption, meaning that your messages can be potentially intercepted and read by third-party groups.

WeChat is free to download for iPhone and Android users.

How to sign up for WeChat

Despite its popularity, signing up for WeChat isn’t as easy as making a username and password.

When you try to sign up, someone who already has an account will need to scan a QR code to verify you. If you don’t have someone to scan the code, you can’t open an account.

Here’s a more detailed step-by-step.

Now you can send messages using WeChat.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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People are lining up in droves after rumors spread that billionaire Jack Ma is giving out cash to Chinese seniors

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Jack Ma in China in 2019.

  • Online rumors in China are claiming that Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma is giving away money.
  • The gifts are said to be made in honor of Lunar New Year, but authorities warn it may be a scam.
  • Ma, through his companies, has previously given millions in LNY gifts to customers.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Chinese seniors are lining up at banks across the country after rumors swirled online that reclusive billionaire Jack Ma was giving away pieces of his fortune, UPI reported,

Many began lining up at banks across Fuzhou, in the Jiangxi Province, after a WeChat group claimed that Ma was giving away 200 Chinese yuan – the equivalent of $30 – to anyone 60 or older who could show proof of age. 

The gift was said to be in honor of Lunar New Year, which began on February 11 and is observed until February 17. During that time, the country generally shuts down, and gifts of money are exchanged in special red envelopes meant to bring prosperity in the new year. 

But authorities warned seniors not to trust rumors about a potential gift, and the Fuzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau issued an emergency notice warning citizens of a possible scam.

Ma has in the past offered special deals and promotions during Lunar New Year, largely through Alibaba and its subsidiary companies. In 2014, Ma’s Alibaba issued 99,999 online coupons to users via WeChat, worth around 990,000 yuan, or $153,000. In 2016, Alipay, the mobile payment branch of Alibaba, gave away US$120 million in a TV promotion. And in 2018, Alibaba offered a “digital red envelope” AR game, paying out around US$820 million to customers. 

Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, has scarcely been seen in public over the past three months, though he was reportedly spotted golfing at a luxury golf resort on the island province of Hainan last week. 

Ma disappeared from public life at the end of last year after Chinese authorities cracked down on his business empire in November and launched an anti-trust investigation into Alibaba in December.

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