Amazon Is Not Banning TikTok on Employees’ Phones, After All

Seattle-based company said email was sent to staff 'in error'

Amazon did not actually ban TikTok from its employees' phones. Photo illustration: Amira Lin; Source: Amazon, Unsplash, Getty Images
Headshot of Scott Nover

Amazon said Friday it would not change company policy, and employees can still have TikTok, the popular social video app, on their phones.

The company said it erroneously sent an email to employees earlier in the day instructing them to delete the app, citing potential “security risks.”

“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,” Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokesperson, said in an email to Adweek late Friday.

In an email sent to employees, initially obtained by The New York Times, Amazon asked employees to remove the app from any devices that “access Amazon email” to retain access to their work email.

TikTok spokesperson Laura Perez said ahead of Amazon’s clarification that it had not contacted TikTok about any concerns, but that the company welcomed “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,” Perez said.

The kerfuffle between Amazon and TikTok comes as the social media app has faced intense scrutiny from U.S. and foreign regulators about data security and storage as well as the relationship between parent company ByteDance and China. ByteDance, which runs a Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin in mainland China, says it is headquartered in the Cayman Islands and not in China. 

TikTok has been blocked in India, threatened in Australia and voluntarily pulled out of Hong Kong—and President Donald Trump confirmed his administration is looking to ban TikTok (though it’s unclear how that would work).

Anderson, the Amazon spokesperson, declined to comment further on why the email was sent in error.

@ScottNover Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.