Philadelphia TikTok influencer reacts to looming ban on app in the United States

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Trump Administration is banning the download of TikTok and popular Chinese communication app, WeChat, starting this Sunday.

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement: "At the President's direction, we have taken significant action to combat China's malicious collection of American citizens' personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations."

Philadelphia's most-followed TikTok user, James Marchiano - who has more than 96,000 followers - said the move is disappointing.

"I definitely feel like it's going to take a big part of my life out of the "equation" and I have to figure out something else to do," said Marchiano.

MORE COVERAGE: US to block TikTok, WeChat downloads starting Sunday

Action News spoke with TikTok users who say the ban is a shame.

"I think we have bigger fish to fry," said Taylor Davenport of Columbia, South Carolina. "I think we have other things to be worried about like the pandemic like other social issues like Black Lives Matter."

WeChat is the main messaging app used in China, it operates similarly to WhatsApp. Local organizations like the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation use WeChat to transmit important information to more than 1600 local English learners. Coordinators said the ban is devastating.

"Especially during COVID-19 period, the policies are changing like on a daily basis and there are new programs coming out and we just translate them into Chinese and get the word out so they know what's available for them," said Margo Huang, coordinator for Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

Per the Commerce Department:

As of September 20, 2020, the following transactions are prohibited: Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.; Any provision of services through the WeChat mobile application for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the U.S. As of September 20, 2020, for WeChat and as of November 12, 2020, for TikTok, the following transactions are prohibited: Any provision of internet hosting services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.; Any provision of content delivery network services enabling the functioning or optimization of the mobile application in the U.S.; Any provision directly contracted or arranged internet transit or peering services enabling the function or optimization of the mobile application within the U.S.; Any utilization of the mobile application's constituent code, functions, or services in the functioning of software or services developed and/or accessible within the U.S. Any other prohibitive transaction relating to WeChat or TikTok may be identified at a future date. Should the U.S. Government determine that WeChat's or TikTok's illicit behavior is being replicated by another app somehow outside the scope of these executive orders, the President has the authority to consider whether additional orders may be appropriate to address such activities. The President has provided until November 12 for the national security concerns posed by TikTok to be resolved. If they are, the prohibitions in this order may be lifted.
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