Wells Fargo is directing employees to delete TikTok from their work phones amid growing concerns over security and privacy from the short-form Chinese-owned video app.
“We have identified a small number of Wells Fargo employees with corporate-owned devices who had installed the TikTok application on their device,” Wells Fargo said in a statement to NBC News on Saturday. “Due to concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices, and because corporate-owned devices should be used for company business only, we have directed those employees to remove the app from their devices.”
The move from the nation’s fourth-largest bank came as Amazon clarified Friday it was not telling its employees to do the same, despite an email reportedly sent to some employees that instructed them to do so.
“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,” a spokesperson for the e-commerce giant said in a statement late Friday.
The company had requested that its workers remove the app from their mobile devices due to “security risks,” according to a memo to employees seen by Reuters.
NBC News has not seen the memo.
The controversy capped a week in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was considering banning TikTok and other Chinese apps.
TikTok is owned by the Beijing tech giant ByteDance and has been eager to show lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere that people can trust it with their personal data.
A spokesperson for TikTok told NBC News on Friday that “user security is of the utmost importance” to the company.
“We are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”
TikTok has become one of the most popular apps in the world, a platform where people, mostly under 30, share creative 15-second videos set to music.
But lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe have raised concerns that the app might be sending people’s data back to Beijing.
There have also been concerns that TikTok is censoring content that might be critical of China’s well-documented human rights abuses, using the social media platform as an outlet to shape its image in the eyes of young people around the world.
TikTok has repeatedly denied this, saying it is not influenced by China or any foreign government and that it has not shared data nor has been asked to do so.
It said Tuesday that it was withdrawing from Hong Kong, making TikTok the latest tech company to review its involvement in the territory following a sweeping national security law passed by Beijing.
TikTok has always been intended for the international market, with parent company ByteDance offering a separate version of the platform, called Douyin, to users in mainland China.
Cristian Santana, Reuters and Alexander Smith contributed.