By Suhauna Hussain Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) On Friday, Amazon employees received an email instructing them to remove the app. That email was then followed up with an alert that the email was a mistake.
Hours after sending an email instructing employees to remove the social media app TikTok from their phones, citing unspecified "security risks," Amazon.com Inc. said Friday the message was sent in error.
The curious sequence of events came days after the White House amped up messaging that casts the popular Chinese-owned service as a potential threat to national security.
The original email, whose existence was first reported by the New York Times and independently confirmed by the L.A. Times, said TikTok, which lets users create and share short videos of themselves with millions of viewers, would no longer be allowed on mobile devices that access Amazon email. Employees would still be allowed to use TikTok on their Amazon laptops using a web browser, the email said. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to provide more details about how the error occurred.
The federal government is weighing a ban on TikTok in the U.S. because of concerns surrounding Chinese surveillance, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said Monday. Trump reaffirmed Pompeo's comments Tuesday, saying his administration was "looking at" blocking the app nationwide.
ByteDance acquired Musical.ly, the American company that has since merged with TikTok, in 2017, and last November, the U.S. government opened a national security review of that deal.
Trump's and Pompeo's comments this week escalated the conflict between the U.S. and China, which have been locked in battle over technological dominance. Relations have been especially strained under the Trump administration, which launched a trade war with China more than two years ago.
TikTok said in a statement that the company is committed to respecting the privacy of users: "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. We're proud that tens of millions of Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection, including many of the Amazon employees and contractors who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.