Republican and Democratic national committees have managed to find something they agree on – namely, that using the viral video app TikTok is a bad idea. This has emerged as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier last week that the app might get banned in the US.
CNN says it has seen the warnings sent by the two committees to their staff currently engaged in the election campaign, in the form of guidances that focus on security issues they see with the hugely popular app, owned by China’s ByteDance. The security concern that’s cited is the possibility of the app sharing data with the Chinese authorities.
Democrats want their staff not to use TikTok privately, while they don’t seem equally opposed to using the platform for campaign purposes – but advise doing this on “a separate phone and account.” So it’s all about protecting their own data, not them caring about the data of other users who follow them on TikTok or even the censorship accusations TikTok has faced.
Staffers are also discouraged from using Russia’s FaceApp.
Republicans, meanwhile, said that their policy has been in place for a long time, also advising against using TikTok on personal devices.
Meanwhile, Amazon workers reportedly received a similar message, although stronger in tone, instructing them to delete TikTok from their phones “immediately.”
The US is not the only market where TikTok is coming under scrutiny and pressure, as it has recently been banned in India amid political and security tensions between that country and China.
TikTok is responding to the US situation by pointing out that its CEO is American, and attempting to assure critics of its commitment to user privacy and security.
In a statement sent to CNN, the company also threw in its dedication to banning what is described as “misleading and inauthentic content and accounts” – no doubt aware that this is the kind of rhetoric many like to hear, although concerns and criticism of the app revolve around a different topic – namely, of TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government.
ByteDance develops another app for the Chinese market, identical to TikTok in every respect except for its servers being located in China itself. Nevertheless, TikTok has been criticized in the past not only because of fears of possible user data abuse, but also for implementing some components of China’s censorship rules even in international markets.