Some TikTok users in DC region worry a ban on app could impact livelihood

The popular video-sharing app TikTok that has gained fans of all ages recently is under fire in a big way. 

The U.S. Commerce Department said Friday it will ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app and WeChat from U.S. app stores on Sunday and will bar the apps from accessing essential internet services in the U.S. — a move that could effectively wreck the operation of both Chinese services for U.S. users.

READ MORE: US government bans TikTok and WeChat from app stores, threatens shutdowns

Users who already have TikTok will be fine for now but won’t be able to take any new updates. But those who don’t, come Sunday, the App Store and Google Play won’t even offer them. 

TikTok won’t disappear entirely on Sunday. The app will still work for at least a few more weeks unless a deal is not approved by President Donald Trump for an American company to buy a majority stake in the app.

WeChat will be very restricted after Sunday as well whereas any money transfers will be banned too. 

The apps were the subject of an executive order signed by Trump in August. He said the apps pose a threat to national security because they’re owned by a Chinese company.

“The Chinese communist government has the ability to access it legally and that’s where the big concern is,” said Brad Shear, a privacy lawyer based in Bethesda.

“Do we really want to have the potential of Chinese government being able to access and er citizens personal information? So I think that’s where the big privacy security is.”

Many people both young and old have found a connection and community on TikTok particularly during the pandemic. 

And for some it’s their livelihood. 

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“TikTok recently rolled out the ‘Creator Fund’ and ‘Marketplace’ which allows more people to make money,” said Alice Crel of Ashton, Md., who is a TikTok influencer with more than 86,000 followers.

“I plan on joining the ‘Marketplace once I reach a 100,000 followers so I’d actually be able to make money off of it.”

On Friday, FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan contacted the U.S Department of Commerce in addition to Tencent, which owns WeChat but neither parties responded to our request for comment. 

In a response to FOX 5, a spokesperson for TikTok said the following: 

"We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the US from November 12.Our community of 100 million US users love TikTok because it's a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection, and we’re committed to protecting their privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.

In our proposal to the US Administration, we've already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and US government oversight of US data security. Further, an American technology provider would be responsible for maintaining and operating the TikTok network in the US, which would include all services and data serving US consumers. We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods."