Feb 23, 2020 - Technology

TSA bans employees from using China-owned TikTok for social media outreach

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Sunday that it is banning employees from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok for social media outreach, after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent the agency a letter raising security concerns, AP reports.

The big picture: Schumer had previously requested that the U.S. government investigate whether TikTok poses any "national security risks. The app already has more than 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, and it could become a Chinese vacuum for coveted American data as tensions between the countries continue to escalate.

Driving the news: Schumer sent a letter Saturday to TSA administrator David Pekoske citing a Department of Homeland Security rule banning the use of TikTok on agency devices.

  • Schumer said to AP: "Given the widely reported threats, the already-in-place agency bans, and the existing concerns posed by TikTok, the feds cannot continue to allow the TSA’s use of the platform to fly."
  • The TSA said Sunday that a “small number of TSA employees have previously used TikTok on their personal devices to create videos for use in TSA’s social media outreach, but that practice has since been discontinued," per AP.

Go deeper: TikTok expands content rules, cracks down on misinformation

Go deeper

GOP senators introduce bill to ban TikTok on government devices

Photo illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Rick Scott are introducing legislation to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.

The big picture: Chinese tech companies like TikTok parent ByteDance are drawing rising scrutiny from policymakers who argue that Beijing can tap them to harvest vast amounts of data from Americans.

TikTok plans Los Angeles "transparency center" to assuage critics

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok said Tuesday that it plans to open a "transparency center" in Los Angeles where experts can observe the Chinese-owned platform's moderation processes.

Why it matters: Critics have worried over the degree to which China might influence TikTok's content policies and practices, now or in the future.

TikTok forms outside group to help shape content moderation policies

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images.

TikTok on Wednesday unveiled a group of outside advisers with expertise in child safety, hate speech, misinformation and other areas that will help guide its content moderation policies.

The big picture: Online platforms are facing intense scrutiny from lawmakers and even the Justice Department over how they decide what their users can and can't say and do.