TikTok could disappear from the iOS and Android app stores in the United States if it doesn’t find a buyer soon. According to an internal White House document obtained by Reuters, Trump’s executive order will prohibit companies such as Google and Apple from offering TikTok on their app stores.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders banning transactions with the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat, unless they reach a resolution within 45 days that the U.S. doesn’t deem to be a national security threat. However, the initial announcement didn’t share any specifics and left a lot to speculate.
A new report by Reuters offers a few clarifications on what the potential ban could entail. If it goes through, the executive order will dramatically cripple TikTok’s operations and revenue in the U.S. In addition to blocking Google and Apple from hosting the app, businesses will no longer be allowed to purchase advertising on TikTok. What’s more, even accepting the terms of service of TikTok after downloading it from alternate sources could be considered a “prohibited transaction”.
The acquired document, however, doesn’t reveal whether TikTok’s network traffic will be censored, which would let users continue using the app as long as they manage to install it on their phones or via TikTok’s website. In India, TikTok has been banned from networks meaning you can’t access it unless you’ve set up a Virtual Private Network.
At the moment, however, it’s unlikely that Trump’s ban will go into effect at all. Microsoft has already announced that it’s considering acquiring TikTok’s operations in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. A Financial Times report claims Microsoft may end up buying TikTok’s global operations too.
Other than Microsoft, Twitter has said to have held preliminary talks for a TikTok takeover, although it could run into financial roadblocks given TikTok’s reported $50 billion valuations.
The leaked White House document doesn’t say whether similar restrictions will be executed for the Chinese social media app, WeChat. WeChat has oddly remained quiet on the matter and hasn’t yet commented on how it plans to tackle the executive order, despite hosting millions of users in the United States.