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TikTok and WeChat transactions are prohibited.

US President Donald Trump recently signed a presidential order banning «transactions» with the two Chinese companies Bytedance and Tencent. Reports QZ.com. These two own TikTok and WeChat, respectively, both popular social media and payment platforms.

The reason for the ban (which also applies to American companies) is that Trump considers Bytedance and Tencent to be threats to US national security, not least in view of the danger of espionage.

This is also part of the US «Clean Network» campaign, where the goal is to clean up American digital life and get rid of all major Chinese technology products.

The question is whether the ban can affect more than just the two apps TikTok and WeChat. Tencent, for example, has large stakes in a number of game developers, including full ownership of League of Legends developer Riot Games and 40 percent ownership of Fortnite developer Epic Games. Thus, Trump’s ban may inadvertently drastically acidify working conditions for these companies.

Vague wording gives great uncertainty and TikTok does not have a high star with the President of the United States.

In the wake of the announcement of the ban, Tencent shares fell more than 10 percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange, and it also created uncertainty about Microsoft’s rumored acquisition of TikTok from Bytedance. Trump has also demanded that TikTok must find an American buyer for its American business by 15 September, a date that is hardly coincidental as the ban takes effect on 21 September.

This date is also the deadline for the US government to define exactly what a «transaction» means. This is very vaguely worded in the presidential order, and in practice it can mean anything at the moment.

As esports expert Rod Breslau writes on Twitter:
It is an open question whether pure communication between Chinese companies, servers or third parties can be regarded as «transactions», or whether it is limited to monetary actions only.

The White House has told the Los Angeles Times that game developers «… will not be affected by the ban …», but without any clearer wording, the uncertainty is still great. If the ban does not directly affect these companies, the working conditions behind the scenes can be strongly acidified – and it will probably have some financial consequences anyway.