U.S. Government Cracks Down on Its Own TikTok Ad Spend (Report)

It’s just the latest instance of federal pushback against the app

The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on December 20, 2022 in Culver City, California
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The federal government is reeling in its TikTok advertising endeavors, according to an unnamed advertising executive cited in a report from The Information.

An interim rule by the Department of Defense, NASA, and the General Services Administration, established last week, prohibits contracts necessitating TikTok use. Required use, in this case, extends to situations “where social media advertising services might be part of the procurement.”

This effectively signals a pause on government TikTok spending. There’s no telling when the interim rule will be lifted, modified, or cemented as a permanent fixture of federal advertising restrictions.

NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and TikTok spokespersons did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment.

This is far from the only move the U.S. has taken to insulate itself from TikTok and its influence. Last year, Biden banned TikTok use on federal employees’ work devices.

In more recent news, the state of Montana flat-out banned TikTok, declaring the app entirely unwelcome in the state. In response, TikTok Inc. (the company behind the app of the same name) sued the state, accusing it of violating the First Amendment while also arguing Montana was unfairly singling out the short-form video app.

While micro bans, like federal employees not being able to use TikTok on work devices, are trackable and enforceable endeavors, it’s largely agreed upon that a statewide ban of an app is likely unenforceable on the basis that Montana doesn’t have the infrastructure to actually monitor statewide TikTok usage that closely and, on the flip side of that same coin, citizens can easily use a VPN to subvert app stores’ state-specific offerings restrictions.

In that sense, the Montana situation is perhaps more a symbolic ban than a reality for its populace, but when combined with federal aversion to TikTok, paints the picture that the U.S. is growing progressively more unfriendly toward the China-backed platform.