The U.S. Commerce Department announced today that it would prohibit new downloads of Chinese social media apps TikTok and WeChat from United States' app stores in the interest of National Security starting September 27. The ban comes after weeks of back and forth from the Trump Administration on whether or not the government would allow the apps to sell their U.S. operations to an American company.
What exactly does that mean for U.S. creators and users on two of the most popular apps in the world? You will no longer be able to download TikTok or WeChat from any U.S. mobile app store starting Sunday. If you already have the apps installed on your phone, then you can continue using them without interruption, but neither WeChat or TikTok will continue to receive updates in the U.S.
It's unclear how well the apps will continue to function without the regular maintenance and security updates that users have come to expect. Existing bugs and security loopholes are sure to exist in both apps without any hope of future updates or fixes under the new mandate. The U.S. government has currently set a November 12 deadline for a full ban of the platforms if a sale can't be made. At this point, TikTok and WeChat would likely disappear from your phone even if you already had them installed.
Despite WeChat and TikTok no longer being offered in app stores, that doesn't mean the services will be totally inaccessible to users in the United States. Here's how to plan for the ban and continue using the apps once the initial ban goes into effect:
- Download the TikTok and WeChat Mobile Apps Immediately
- Download all of your existing TikTok Videos
- Take advantage of the TikTok Web App
- Study the competition (Triller, Byte, Reels, etc)
Download the TikTok and WeChat Apps Immediately
Run don't walk to download both TikTok and WeChat from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or wherever you download apps for your mobile device. You have until Sunday to get the apps and after this you won't have any option to download them inside the U.S. even if you already have accounts on each.
If you are unable to download the apps before the United States' deadline of Sunday 9/27 then you will only have limited options for accessing TikTok content and potentially no option to use some WeChat features.
Download all of your existing TikTok Videos
We don't want to sound like doomers here, but TikTok's fate is wildly uncertain and that means every creator should prepare for a future where the app no longer exists and all videos are permanently lost. Don't panic!
There's still time to save all of your content and make sure those posts live forever on your iPhone, Android, or PC hard drive. You can download most TikTok posts right inside the app using the Save Video button inside the Share menu. In some cases this button does not appear though, and to download those videos you'll need to use an app like Kapwing.
To download a TikTok video without using the TikTok app - copy the URL to any TikTok and open the Kapwing Studio. Once inside the studio, paste your link into the upload box to bring the TikTok video into Kapwing without any watermarks.
When you see the video appear inside the studio, you can process it for instant downloading it by clicking the red Export button in the top right of the screen. Once your video is done processing you can download it to your device or keep it in your Kapwing cloud storage to access at anytime no matter what happens to TikTok.
Take advantage of the TikTok Web App
TikTok has steadily built out its website over the past year and at this point you can get a nearly full app experience on web. Signing into TikTok's web app gives you full access to your personalized For You and Following feeds. You can also directly upload videos to your account from web without any need for the app. Prolific creators were using the website long before the ban to take video edits from their desktop to the platform as quickly as possible.
This will be a huge help to creators who don't download the app in time and still want a way to access all of the incredible content TikTok has to offer. The incredibly filters, camera effects, and music library that creators have come to love in the app is still not available on web, but it's a small price to pay in order to continue making videos for your audience.
TikTok's sophisticated web app isn't only available to users on desktop though. Mobile users without access to the original TikTok app can still use the web app to view their feeds and watch new videos every day. On iOS and Android you can add a shortcut to the website to your home screen for easy access to the TikTok web app at any time. It's almost like having the real app right there on your phone.
WeChat also offers a web app, but we are unable to confirm at the time of publishing how functional the site is on mobile devices in addition to desktops.
Study the competition (Triller, WhatsApp, etc)
If worst comes to worst and TikTok and WeChat are fully banned in the United States - you'd be wise to familiarize yourself with some of the apps' biggest competitors. TikTok clones have been flooding the market for months now with high profile examples including Instagram Reels, Triller, Byte, and the upcoming YouTube Shorts.
We wrote a complete analysis of every major TikTok competitor available today and I definitely suggest giving it a read if you want to see what the key differences are between all of these short form video platforms. We also put together a full guide to transferring your videos from TikTok to other major apps if you decide to make the move too.
On the WeChat side - major competitors include the Facebook owned WhatsApp (which does not work in China), encrypted messaging app Signal, Line, and Viber. WeChat's unique implementation of financial transactions is not available on most competitor apps.
The sudden government ban of TikTok and WeChat is an unprecedented move in modern mobile app development and already has major implications for the industry as a whole. We'll continue reporting on the ban and providing you with all the information we can to help you navigate and bypass the shuttering of these major platforms that have become so important to creators around the world.
Follow us on social media @KapwingApp for the latest TikTok news and please drop us a line if you figure out other methods to get around the ban and continue to access and post content on the app.
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