President Donald Trump issued an executive order late Thursday prohibiting “any transactions by any person, or with any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States with ByteDance Ltd. or any of its subsidiaries.” The decision, which will amount to a de facto ban on the short-form video app TikTok from operating in the U.S. unless it sells to a U.S company, marks the latest in a rollercoaster saga: Trump said last Friday he would ban TikTok entirely and would not support a sale to a U.S. owner. He then walked those comments back after news surfaced that Microsoft had nearly reached a deal for a sale with Beijing-based ByteDance, which owns TikTok and its counterpart Douyin. The order—“on addressing the threat posed by TikTok”—cited the app’s alleged practices of collecting “vast swaths of information on its users”: “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
Also on Thursday night, Trump issued a similar executive order against the popular messaging and payments app WeChat and its owner, TenCent. WeChat, unlike TikTok, has users in mainland China, the United States, and across the world. TenCent not only operates the billion-user app but maintains stakes in a wide swath of companies, including a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, likely complicating a ban on any of the company’s properties.