BBC joins multiple Western governments in banning TikTok over security fears, but continues to use it to promote content
The BBC said it has advised staff to delete TikTok from corporate phones over privacy and security concerns, although it said it would continue to use the platform for promotional purposes.
The move comes after the UK government and others banned the app from government phones, although it is still permitted on personal phones.
“The decision is based on concerns raised by government authorities worldwide regarding data privacy and security,” the corporation said in an email to staff on Sunday, which was made public on Monday.
“If the device is a BBC corporate device, and you do not need TikTok for business reasons, TikTok should be deleted from the BBC corporate mobile device.”
It said staff who have TikTok on a personal phone that is also used for work should contact the corporation’s information security team for further discussions.
Chinese-owned TikTok, which has has denied wrongdoing, said it was “disappointed” with the move.
“The BBC has a strong presence on our platform, with multiple accounts from news through to music reaching our engaged community both in the UK and around the world,” the company said.
“We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics.
“We remain in close dialogue with the BBC and are committed to working with them to address any concerns they have.”
The popular short-video app, which has more than 3.5 billion downloads worldwide, is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance and there are concerns the data it collects could be shared with the Chinese government.
TikTok denies having ever provided data to the Chinese government.
Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy said on Twitter of the move, “Quite intriguing. BBC News making big play for views on TikTok but now the BBC is telling staff not to have it on their phones.”
Asked by BBC News about the apparent contradiction, the corporation said it was giving the guidance to staff with sensitive data, and not issuing a public warning about the general use of TikTok.
Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, told the BBC, “If protecting sources isn’t a priority, that’s a major problem.”
In the US the federal government and a number of state governments have banned TikTok on government-issued device, and it has also been banned from European Commission government devices.
The BBC said it appeared to be the first UK media organisation to make such a move, and only the second worldwide after Denmark’s public service broadcaster.