US Soldiers Banned from Using TikTok

Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok has been banned for use by US soldiers due to growing security concerns, according to reports.

Although military recruiters are using the app to encourage more young people to sign-up for service, owner ByteDance has come under increasing scrutiny in the US over its links to Beijing.

The new Defence Department guidance, seen by Military.com, points to “TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use.

“Be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information,” it continued.

TikTok first came under fire for appearing to censor content related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and has since been the subject of an investigation by a powerful US committee.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has launched an inquiry into whether the sensitive personal user data TikTok collects represents a national security risk. If it decides to turn this into a full investigation, it could spell bad news for the future of the app inside the US.

CFIUS reviews whether foreign acquisitions of US companies could harm the country’s interests. ByteDance didn’t seek the committee’s clearance when it bought US app Musical.ly (now TikTok), in 2017, so the new inquiry is apparently seen as fair game.

The US Army ban follows similar guidance from the US Navy. However, although these new rules apply to government-issued devices, soldiers could still technically use the app on their personal smartphones.

TikTok also released its first ever transparency report at the end of December. But far from alleviating concerns around its links to Beijing, the document raised more suspicions.

According to the document, it didn’t receive a single take down request from the Chinese government in the first half of 2019.

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