Army cadets asked not to use TikTok in uniform

Spokeswoman says army’s formal guidance applies to use of all current, emerging social media platforms

Amid concerns over the handling of user data, a spokeswoman for the American Army has said that the army cadets were instructed not to use TikTok, a China-owned social media mobile application, while representing the military.

The directive comes after Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the US Senate, urged the army to review potential risks in its use of the popular video app for recruiting American teenagers. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that the army was undertaking a security assessment of the app, which is owned by tech giant Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.

Issuing the orders, the US Army Cadet Command oversees the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) and Junior ROTC to train university and high school students for the military. The guidance from cadet command was issued in order to err on the side of caution, an army spokeswoman said.

While cadets can still use the app for their own personal use, the guidance would prohibit them posting TikTok material for recruitment, while in uniform or performing official duties. The directive was first reported by online military-focused publication Task & Purpose. The hashtags #rotc and #jrotc found multiple TikTok of young men and women in US military uniforms lip-syncing, dancing and performing training exercises.

The company has previously stressed its independence from Beijing and said no US user data is stored in China, but it has failed to assuage congressional concerns about the security of the personal data of US citizens using the app and whether content on the platform is subject to censorship from Beijing.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) has launched a national security review of ByteDance’s $1 billion acquisition of US social media app Musical.ly. An army spokeswoman said that the army has not given any other specific guidance on the use of TikTok, but that it does have formal social media guidance that applies to the use of all current and emerging social media platforms.

“We also continuously remind soldiers to remain vigilant about the risks of using any social media platform when sharing their personal information and data,” she said.

PAKISTAN ARMY BAN: The Pakistan Army already prohibited the use of social media networks among all personnel, irrespective of their ranks or departments. A notification issued from the General Headquarter of the Pakistan Army said that despite several notices, dissemination of ‘sensitive information’ has been observed on different social media groups, which is highly dangerous for national security.

The notification suggested the army officials to educate their families to refrain from joining or visiting such groups and social media pages having military signatures or identity. “All ranks are responsible for educating their families to refrain from joining any group having a military signature or identity. Any violation will be considered as misconduct, liable to strict disciplinary action,” it said.

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