Just because the TikTok/Oracle/Walmart deal has Trump’s blessing doesn’t mean the app is out of the woods just yet. But it will live another day on the app store. On Sunday night, President Trump’s demand that TikTok be removed from the app store—preventing new users from downloading the popular video app and current users from benefiting from any updates presumably until a deal is reached—was blocked by a federal judge just hours before it was set to go into effect.
Lawyers for TikTok successfully argued that banning the app infringed on users’ freedom of speech, likening TikTok to a "modern day version of the town square."
In a statement, the Commerce Department said it would postpone the app store ban, but did not provide another deadline. TikTok still has until November 12 to finalize a deal with Oracle before a full-on ban.
"We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees. At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the President gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
WeChat, another Chinese-owned app affected by Trump’s order, scored a similar victory in court last week. A judge delayed app store restrictions at the request of a group of WeChat users, also citing First Amendment rights.
Trump opened his battle against Chinese-owned apps in July, arguing that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, shared user data with the Chinese government. The president has yet to present any evidence for this claim.
Meanwhile, the many young creators see their futures hanging in the balance. Users like Ellie Zeiler began their careers on the app, and might lose it all if TikTok were to suddenly vanish.
“TikTok has become such a big part of people's lives, especially since COVID started,” Zeiler told me over email in July. “I know in my family it's given us so many laughs and is a way of connecting with each other.”