The Democratic and Republican national committees have both warned their respective candidates against using TikTok, CNN reports. A copy of the warning sent by the Democratic National Committee was obtained by CNN.
“We continue to advise campaign staff to refrain from using TikTok on personal devices,” the DNC security team wrote in the warning. “If you are using TikTok for campaign work, we recommend using a separate phone and account.” The warning was sent Friday to Democratic campaigns, committees, and state parties.
Mandi Merritt, the national press secretary for the Republican National Committee, spoke to a similar claim on Saturday, citing “security concerns.”
“The RNC has advised employees and stakeholders to not download the TikTok app on their personal devices,” Merritt said.
Though concrete evidence against Chinese-owned TikTok — as well as other foreign-made apps — is still nigh impossible to come by, high-ranking officials are more often than ever choosing to err on the side of caution. There’s no way this latest warning will deter teens from using the viral app, but it’s further evidence that the U.S. government hasn’t given up its hunt against TikTok just yet.
What TikTok says — In response to Friday’s warning by the DNC, TikTok issued a statement to CNN.
“We are fully committed to protecting our users’ privacy and security,” the statement reads. “Under the leadership of our American CEO, along with our Chief Information Security Officer and Head of Safety, TikTok’s growing US team works diligently to develop a best-in-class security infrastructure and uphold our Community Guidelines which prohibit misleading and inauthentic content and accounts. We welcome a dialogue with anyone who has questions about TikTok so that we can ease concerns they may have.”
China? Couldn’t be us — Notice the emphasis on “American” CEO in the statement above? That’s quickly becoming one of the company’s biggest talking points; the company is emphasizing its American leadership at every possible opportunity now.
TikTok is working overtime to separate itself from China — and for good reason. The United States is one of TikTok’s most important markets, but the U.S. and China don’t mix. And tensions between the two countries are only proving to escalate.
Ban incoming? — A written warning to government candidates could be the least of TikTok’s woes in the second half of 2020.
There are at least two ongoing official U.S. investigations into TikTok, and though we haven’t seen the fruits of those investigations just yet, things are looking bleak for TikTok. The U.S. is even considering a full ban on the app, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The DNC security team said in Friday’s email that it’s been getting lots more emails since Pompeo’s comments and India's decision to ban TikTok and other Chinese-made apps.
The new warnings from the DNC and the RNC aren’t surprising, given the U.S.’s intense discomfort with China right now. But more official warnings against TikTok could be a portent of more stringent bans to come.