Update: Amazon released a statement saying that an email to employees telling them to delete TikTok from their phones was sent out “in error.”
“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Amazon sent out an internal email on Friday ordering employees to delete the TikTok app from their phones, citing “security risks” connected with the app.
While employees will be permitted to view TikTok from laptop browsers, they must delete the app from any device with access to Amazon email. TikTok allows users to generate and share short clips of them singing and dancing to music and is popular among teenagers.
“We are fully committed to respecting the privacy of users,” TikTok said in a statement. “Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns.”
U.S. officials have expressed concern that TikTok, which is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, can be used to pass user data to Chinese authorities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the U.S. was “looking at” banning the app entirely, along with other Chinese social-media apps.
One should only use the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said.
In late June, Apple discovered that TikTok was gathering personal data off the phones of millions of users.
TikTok has moved to strengthen its lobbying team in the U.S. as a result of added scrutiny toward the app. Among others, TikTok has hired Michael Hacker, a former senior adviser to House majority whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.), and Albert Calamug, a policy adviser who spent 20 years in the U.S. Marines, CNBC reported on Wednesday.
The app has also drawn increased scrutiny in other nations worried about Chinese influence. India announced in late June that it would ban TikTok entirely, along with 58 other Chinese apps, following deadly border clashes between the two nations. The company is reportedly facing losses of up to $6 billion after the ban in India, which constitutes the app’s largest market.