The U.S. Army, like other branches of the armed forces, is now banning soldiers from using TikTok.
A representative for the military branch told Military.com that the Chinese video-sharing app is “considered a cyber threat” and is not allowed on government phones. In further confirmation to TheWrap, a representative addressed “potential security risks associated with” TikTok identified in a Dec. 16 Defense Department Cyber Awareness Message.
The rep said, “The guidance is to be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts, etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.”
TikTok is owned by Beijing company ByteDance and use has blown up in the United States over the past two years.
The rep did note that there isn’t much the Army can do to stop soldiers from using the mega-popular app on their own phones.
“As for using the app on personal devices we cannot direct service members on how they use it,” they said via email. “However, we take security of personal information very seriously and therefore ask anyone who uses the app on their personal phones to use caution and be vigilant when posting personal information.”
TikTok is a social platform for making and sharing short-form videos. The app specializes in clips that are 15 seconds or less — an evolutionary step up from Vine’s 6-second maximum length. Users can style their clips with a myriad of filters, including face filters similar to Instagram and Snapchat. Like Snapchat, videos are also shot vertically on TikTok. Users lip-sync to music, participate in challenges set by other users and create memes, often going viral in the process both on TikTok and as the videos are cross-posted to other apps like Instagram and Twitter.
Brands like the Washington Post have used the app to reach out to younger consumers and, as Military.com pointed out, Army recruiters were using TikTok to appeal to Generation Z as recently as two months ago.