Current and previous administration officials said they could recall no past example of the U.S. government prohibiting information technology on this scale, a practice more common in authoritarian countries such as China, where Facebook, Google, Twitter and other Western apps are banned.
TikTok has enjoyed explosive growth in the U.S., boasting about 100 million U.S. users on a quarterly basis. WeChat had about 3.3 million monthly active users in the United States as of August, according to analytics provider App Annie.
On Friday, people appeared to be hurrying to download WeChat before the ban sets in. Data provider Sensor Tower said the app climbed to No. 100 Friday afternoon among free iPhone apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store, from No. 1,385 that morning.
The prohibition comes just weeks before a contentious U.S. presidential election in which China has been a frequent target for both President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, from discussions of the coronavirus pandemic to technology and trade.
The move also follows months of U.S. action aimed at countering China on multiple fronts, and represents perhaps the starkest sign yet that the United States is abandoning a decades-long policy of engagement with China.
“Today’s actions prove once again that