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. Photo Illustration by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • President Biden signed an executive order rescinding a ban on TikTok and WeChat.

  • Trump signed 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.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

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, the US Commerce Department under Trump tried to ban new US downloads of TikTok, and the government threatened to ban the app's functionality in November. But judges threw the bans out.

The president is 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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