Downloads of the app WeChat reportedly surged on Friday, with users rushing to get their hands on the application before a deadline imposed by President Donald Trump will make it unavailable.
As The Inquisitr reported, Trump signed an executive order saying that both WeChat and the popular social media app TikTok would be banned from app stores within the U.S. starting on Sunday, September 20. Those who have already downloaded it will still have access to it, but will not be able to receive updates.
“The only real change as of Sunday night will be [TikTok users] won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said during an appearance on Fox Business, via CNN Money.
The president has claimed that TikTok represents a national security threat, claiming that the Chinese government is able to access private data of those who download it in the U.S.
As The Hill noted, the approaching deadline has led to a surge in popularity for WeChat. The app started the morning on Friday ranked No. 1,385 for most popular apps, but by noon had reached the top 100. Citing a mobile insight strategist from the firm SensorTower, the outlet noted that the ranking was a significant jump for WeChat, which is normally between 1,000 and 1,500 for most popular downloads. Friday represented the first time that it had cracked the top 500 this year.
WeChat is a multimedia messaging platform that is regularly used for mobile transactions, The Hill noted.
The move to ban the applications has drawn criticism, and some technology experts say it could have unintended effects. As The Inquisitr added, the ban of WeChat parent corporation Tencent was expected to have an impact on the gaming industry if it goes through as proposed.
As Engadget reported, Tencent has investments in a number of gaming-related companies responsible for a number of titles including PUBG Mobile, League of Legends and Fortnite.
The company has also expanded its reach into the entertainment world, with Engadget noting that it has a stake in the music streaming application Spotify, and recently closed a $3.3 billion deal for an ownership stake in Universal Music Group.
“Tencent Films has also had a hand in producing many major movies recently, like Wonder Woman, Top Gun: Maverick, Terminator: Dark Fate and Venom,” Engadget reported.
The Trump administration had pushed for a sale of the apps so that they would not rest with a China-based company, but this has not yet been able to go through.