Amazon instructs employees to delete TikTok, reverses course hours later

An internal note that directed Amazon employees to delete the TikTok app from mobile devices was made public Friday. The memo instructed employees to have the app deleted by the end of the day.

According to the Associated Press, the global technology and e-commerce company told its employees the video-sharing app should not be on any devices that are used to access work email. Employees would still be able to visit the TikTok website on company-configured computers.

The email cited “security risks” with the app.

In response, a TikTok representative said Amazon “did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns.”

“We welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” the spokesperson said. “We’re proud that tens of millions of Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection, including many of the Amazon employees and contractors who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic.”

Five hours later, Amazon released a follow-up statement, claiming the memo was sent “in error.”

“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok,” a company spokesperson said.

TikTok’s popularity has increased exponentially during the coronavirus pandemic as many people have turned to their devices with limited options for activities while quarantining. The app is especially popular among teens and young people.

Owned by Chinese company ByteDance and led by American CEO Kevin Mayer, TikTok has been criticized by American politicians as having the potential to put users’ information at risk.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called TikTok a threat to national security and said the Trump administration was considering blocking some Chinese apps, The New York Times reported.

He also said people should download the app “only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Amazon isn’t the first big-name organization to ban the app.

In a December memo, the Democratic National Committee told campaigns, committees and state parties to consider concerns about TikTok’s “Chinese ties and potentially sending data back to the Chinese government.” That same month, the Department of Defense told military personnel to delete the app from devices that accessed their government accounts and data.

On Friday, the DNC sent an email to those groups, writing, “We continue to advise campaign staff to refrain from using TikTok on personal devices. If you are using TikTok for campaign work, we recommend using a separate phone and account,” CNN reported.

The Department of Defense has also advised military personnel to keep TikTok off of government-issued phones and electronic devices since the end of last year.

TikTok has upwards of 800 million monthly active users and is the no. 1 downloaded app of 2020, according to Hootsuite.

The company has said multiple times that it has not and will not share user information with Chinese authorities.

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