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Amazon bans TikTok for employees, but flips back

July 11, 2020

Amazon cited security risks while telling its employees to delete TikTok, the popular video-sharing app developed by a Chinese company. Just hours later, the company said the memo had been sent "in error."

TikTok logo on a smartphone screen
Image: picture-alliance/Ostalb Network

An internal email instructed Amazon.com employees to remove TikTok, a popular video-making app owned by the Chinese-based ByteDance, by the end of the day on Friday. The US retail giant warned of security risks and said its employees would need to get rid of the app in order to retain access to company email on their phones.

But before the day was out, the company backtracked, claiming that the earlier email had been sent "in error".

"There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok," said the US online retailing giant.

The reasons for the back-and-forth were not immediately clear. A source cited by Reuters said senior Amazon executives were unaware of the original ban and that the move was reversed after representatives of both companies discussed the matter. 

US gov't grows wary of TikTok

Amazon's ban of Tiktok and subsequent U-turn come at a time when the US government is increasingly scrutinizing the app.

Earlier this week, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said that the US was looking to ban TikTok. He reportedly alleged that the app shared information with the Chinese government.

Following Pompeo's statement, ByteDance said that it had never provided user information to the Chinese government and would never "do so if asked". The parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, has said that user data is stored in the US, with a backup in Singapore. 

India banned TikTok and dozens of popular Chinese apps less than two weeks ago, citing security concerns. Earlier this week, US banking giant Wells Fargo ordered its employees who had installed the app on company-owned mobile devices to remove it immediately, while also noting concerns of "privacy and security."

am/dj (AP, Reuters)