SAN FRANCISCO – Amazon on Friday said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns. The internal message told workers they could still access the popular video-snippet sharing platform using laptop web browsers, but would lose access to company email on smartphones that have TikTok.
“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” an Amazon spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry without going into detail.
“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”
The concern expressed in the internal message appeared to be that the TikTok mobile app could access Amazon company email, according to a copy posted online. “User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok — we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” a spokeswoman for the company said in reply to an AFP inquiry.
She added that TikTok welcomed “a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have.” The Democratic National Committee is advising campaign staff to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep the app on a smartphone separate from that used for work, given the amount of data it can track, a DNC official told AFP.
TikTok this week withdrew from Hong Kong in an exit seen partly as an effort to shake off the “label of it being a company that is controlled by China and shares data with the Chinese government,” Zhu Zhiqun, a political science professor at Bucknell University in the United States, told AFP. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.
The app’s feeds of 15- to 60-second video clips are often fun and humorous, featuring everything from make-up tutorials to dance routines.
However, with its rising popularity in the United States, TikTok has also come under increasing scrutiny from the government here.
US President Donald Trump said this week he was considering banning it as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.
Top US lawmakers have raised concerns over the potential for TikTok to leak user data to the Chinese government.
India — where TikTok is also wildly popular — recently blocked the platform on national security grounds following a deadly border clash between its soldiers and Chinese forces.
TikTok staunchly denies snooping allegations.
“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.