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WeChat and TikTok see US downloads climb ahead of Trump administration ban

WeChat had its biggest one-day download numbers in nearly two years on Friday

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Messaging app WeChat had its biggest one-day download numbers in nearly two years on Friday, ahead of a ban on new downloads from the US Commerce Department expected to take effect tomorrow. Preliminary data from analytics platform Sensor Tower showed Chinese-based WeChat had 10,000 installs in the US Friday, a 150 percent increase from Thursday and a 233 percent week-over-week increase. That’s the largest number of WeChat installs in the US in one day since October 7th, 2019.

Video platform TikTok, also facing a US ban, saw its downloads increase Friday as well, adding 247,000 new installs for a 12 percent increase from Thursday, according to Sensor Tower.

TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, has been in talks with US companies over the past several weeks attempting to create a new company, TikTok Global, to assuage concerns about data security from the Trump administration. President Trump has called for US TikTok operations to be shut down unless sold to a US company by September 15th. After initial talks with Microsoft, Oracle and Walmart are the remaining candidates to take a stake in the new TikTok entity.

The US is TikTok’s second-largest market outside of China following a ban in India, Sensor Tower says, averaging about 7.6 million installs per month from the App Store and Google Play this year alone.

For its part, the Chinese government on Saturday described the process for its “unreliable entities list,” which would blacklist companies from doing business with the Chinese market, The Washington Post reported. China didn’t specifically mention any companies that would be placed on the list, but it’s widely believed that Beijing would take steps against large US companies like Apple and Google if US-China relations continue to deteriorate.