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Amazon says it will not ban TikTok from employee phones

Amazon says it will not ban TikTok from employee phones


The company confirms that an email was sent out in error earlier today

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Tessellated TikTok logos against a dark background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon says that it will not ask employees to remove popular social video-sharing app TikTok from their mobile devices, despite sending an email calling for workers to delete the app earlier on Friday.

As first reported by The New York Times on Friday, Amazon asked employees to remove TikTok from their mobile devices, citing security risks. An Amazon spokesperson told The Verge on Friday that the email was “sent in error.”

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” the Amazon spokesperson said. “There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

“Due to security risks, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email,” the company said in the initial email to employees on Friday morning. “If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email. At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed.” The email was obtained and independently published by multiple reporters on Twitter.

TikTok was recently caught accessing user clipboard data when running in the background, potentially exposing passwords or other sensitive data. The behavior was revealed because of a new feature in iOS 14, and it’s unclear how long it had been present in the app. TikTok has since removed the feature, but the privacy scare underscored long-standing privacy concerns over the app, which is owned by China-based ByteDance.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the Trump administration is “looking at” banning TikTok. It’s not entirely clear how the administration could go about banning the app, and it has yet to act on Pompeo’s statement. Still, the confusion and recent glitches have thrown the TikTok community into a state of confusion worrying about whether the app will be removed in the US.

A TikTok spokesperson responded to Amazon’s decision to order employees to remove the app, saying in a statement: “While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community.”

Update July 10th, 4:56PM ET: An earlier version of this piece reported that Amazon had banned TikTok from employee phones based on an email sent out to employees. The company confirmed the authenticity of that email, but told The Verge after publication that the message was “sent in error.” Large portions of this article have been changed to reflect our new understanding of the company’s policy.