Advertisement

Why TikTok is facing scrutiny and what it means for you and Americans

More scrutiny is coming to the popular app TikTok, which frequently features people lip-synching and dancing in short videos, due to its ties with China and concerns over U.S. security.

Advertisement

More scrutiny is coming to the popular app TikTok, which frequently features people lip-synching and dancing in short videos, due to its ties with China and concerns over U.S. security.

The app which has been downloaded 165 million times in the U.S., is owned by the world's most valuable startup, a Chinese company called ByteDance.

TikTok has said that data pertaining to U.S. users is stored in the U.S. and not subject to Chinese laws. It has also hired an American CEO and may undergo corporate changes to distance itself from China.

But President Donald Trump's administration could ban TikTok due to its ties to China.

Which US-based concerns have been raised?

The U.S. military last year banned the use of TikTok by its soldiers, calling it a security threat. Military employees were ordered to uninstall TikTok "to circumvent any exposure of personal information."

On Monday, Wells Fargo confirmed a ban on the social media app from company devices amid what it says are concerns about security.

"Due to concerns about TikTok's privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices," a company statement said.

In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said the company is open to engaging with Wells Fargo "and sharing the actions we take to protect data security for our users. Tens of millions of Americans, including Wells Fargo employees, come to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration and connection, especially during the pandemic. Our hope is that whatever concerns Wells Fargo may have can be answered through transparent dialogue so that their employees can continue to participate in and benefit from our community."

On Friday, Amazon sent an email to employees to delete TikTok immediately from work phones or risk being cut off from corporate email. But hours later, Amazon said the email had been sent "in error."

The email cited the app's “security risks.”

Company spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what caused the confounding turnaround or error.

What do Democrats and Republicans say about it?

Separately, both the Democratic and Republican national committees warned their staffs about using the app.

U.S. policymakers have previously sounded alarms about the potential for TikTok to be a security risk. A key concern, according to politicians including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer as well as Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley, is the possibility that TikTok data could be handed over to the Chinese government. U.S. cybersecurity experts say the reality is more complicated.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the government was “certainly looking” at banning the app, setting off confused and irritated posts as well as jokes by TikTok users.

CNN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.