WeChat alternatives receive a boost following Trump’s executive order

By

WeChat logo
WeChat is threatened by Trump's executive order.
Photo: WeChat

Downloads of encrypted messaging apps Signal and QQ reportedly spiked following President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting Tencent’s WeChat.

WeChat, while not particularly widely used in the United States, is an essential app in China. Many people who use it in the United States do so to keep in touch with friends and family in China, where WhatsApp has been banned since 2017.

Now that Trump’s August 6 executive order threatens the future of WeChat on the U.S. iOS App Store, people are searching for an alternative. According to a new report from Sensor Tower, Signal might be it. The report notes that:

“In the time since the announcement of WeChat’s impending ban, Signal saw 65,000 installs in the U.S., up from 50,000 in the six days before. This amounted to approximately 10,800 daily installs of the app in the period after the executive order, compared to about 8,300 in the preceding period.”

Signal QQ
How Signal and QQ responded to Trump’s executive order.
Photo: Sensor Tower

QQ also has seen an increase in downloads. In the six days following the executive order, downloads tripled to 15,000 during the period. QQ is already popular in China, which makes it a potentially obvious pick for an alternative to WeChat in the event of a ban.

However, as Sensor Tower points out, QQ is also owned by Tencent, the company behind WeChat. That could mean that it is affected by Trump’s crackdown on Chinese apps. This may explain why downloads have leveled off after an initial uptick following the executive order.

(I also wonder whether Signal could run into problems due to its focus on strong encryption. This could potentially cause it problems in China, where apps such as WeChat are more accessible to the government.)

Not just WeChat: TikTok alternatives experience growth, too

It’s not just WeChat’s competitors that have experienced a boost of interest since Trump’s executive order. A separate Sensor Tower report claims that TikTok alternatives are currently booming in the United States. TikTok is the other app singled out by the White House.

Since late July, rival apps Triller, Zynn, Dubsmash and Byte grew 361% collectively. Triller experienced the biggest boom in popularity of them all, rising a reported 1,227% week-over-week.

Source: Sensor Tower