BBC Broadcasting House, London

BBC urges staff to delete TikTok from company devices

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The BBC has instructed its staff to delete TikTok from any corporate devices unless they are using it for editorial and marketing reasons.

According to PA, guidance reportedly sent to staff at the broadcaster on Sunday said: “We don’t recommend installing TikTok on a BBC corporate device unless there is a justified business reason. If you do not need TikTok for business reasons, TikTok should be deleted.”

The move comes after the social media app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was banned on UK government phones amid fears around the potential extraction of sensitive data.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC takes the safety and security of our systems, data and people incredibly seriously. We constantly review activity on third-party platforms – including TikTok – and will continue to do so.”

However, the BBC will continue to utilise the video-sharing platform to promote its own content, including news stories, but has said it will be regularly assessing the situation.

The banning of TikTok on staff devices marks a sharp change for the broadcaster, which has launched multiple pages on the app in a bid to reach new audiences.

The official BBC TikTok account, which has 4.4 million followers, is still active on the platform and has continued to post content. Various other pages also remain available, including those for BBC News, BBC Sport and BBC Radio 1.

BBC’s technology editor Zoe Kleinman confirmed the broadcaster has taken action, tweeting: “The BBC today has warned staff about having TikTok on corporate phones unless there is an editorial or business reason.

“Yes, this does affect me. But bigger picture: TikTok denies any data sharing with China. Nobody has found a smoking gun. And yet the fears grow louder.”

TikTok said it was “disappointed” with the BBC’s decision and said bans were based on “fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics”.

A spokesperson for the social media app said: “We are disappointed with the guidance that the BBC has shared, but welcome the fact TikTok can still be used as part of editorial, marketing and reporting purposes.

“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.

“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.”

TikTok has strongly denied allegations that it hands users’ data to the Chinese government, although the sheer volume of unnecessary personal and device data which the app extracts from every TikTok user remains a serious privacy and security concern regardless of its destination.

Last week, the UK government imposed an immediate ban on the use of TikTok on government phones, although ministers and officials were still permitted to use the Chinese-owned app on their personal devices.

The United States, Canada, Belgium and the European Commission had already enacted a similar ban on the app for official devices.

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