Biden Ends Trump-Era War on China’s TikTok, WeChat Apps

President Biden June 9 signed an executive order effectively ending the former Trump Administration’s efforts to force a sale of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to American business interests.

The order ends the former administration’s war on the WeChat app, a multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Chinese media giant Tencent. The Trump administration had sought the ban in the United States, citing national security risks.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Biden’s order stipulates that the Commerce Department is now tasked with determining the potential security risks associated with software owned and operated by foreign adversaries, among other responsibilities.

“I have determined that additional consideration must be given in addressing the national emergency declared in [Trump’s] Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019, including the threat posed by certain connected software applications designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress explaining his executive order.

Trump last August issued an executive order mandating the ban unless TikTok sold its U.S. operations. An acquisition deal involving chip maker Oracle and Walmart for 20% in a newly configured ByteDance parent remains in the works, but has not been finalized.

A federal judge last September issued a preliminary injunction stopping Trump’s proposed ban that would have effectively stopped 100 million Americans who use TikTok for social messaging and commercial influencing.

The move wasn’t unprecedented considering China blocks its citizens from using American apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Netflix.

Regardless, the political posturing between the U.S. and China over TikTok saw its CEO Kevin Mayer, the former Disney executive who help launch Disney+, exit the company. Mayer was also COO of TikTok parent ByteDance.

In March, Mayer was named chairman of the DAZN sports-themed subscription streaming service.

Report: Pandemic Fuels Social Media Entertainment

The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be boost for more than subscription and ad-supported VOD as millions of people stayed home for weeks or months entertained by social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

A new report from eMarketer found that in 2020 there were nearly 150 million more social network users worldwide than previously projected. Social media users topped 3.23 billion this year as nearly 81% of Internet users worldwide were classified as social network users.

China reportedly is home to the world’s largest population of social network users — about 889.5 million people and 97.3% of all Internet users. That’s up 7% compared with 2019. eMarketer had projected 4.8% growth in 2020, which it said translates to more than 58 million new social network users in China in 2020.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Among social networking platforms, eMarketer said Facebook would continue to dominate globally through the end of 2024. It remains the only platform used by more than half (59%) of the world’s social networking population. The pandemic has helped to revitalize a relatively sluggish platform, which will post 8.7% growth in global user numbers in 2020. Facebook’s total user numbers will surpass 1.90 billion — about 100 million more than eMarketer projected. Interestingly, Facebook is losing users in Germany and Japan.

Facebook-owned Instagram saw the biggest percentage increase of any platform worldwide, increasing its user base by 22.9%. The total number of users exceeded 1 billion for the first time in 2020.

Snapchat saw its global user base increase by 16.1%, which eMarketer attributed to ongoing issues surrounding social video competitor TikTok — the latter now banned in India.

While a mainstay in the U.S. and for President Trump, Twitter is used much less than Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, according to eMarketer. The research firm pegs 8.4% growth for Twitter in 2020, contending growth is largely due to to the platform’s “starring role” as a source for up-to-the-minute, bite-sized news and opinions in a year that has been “highly volatile politically, socially and economically.”