The BBC is reviewing whether to ban TikTok and has told staff to delete the Chinese social media app from work phones unless they are using it for editorial or marketing reasons.
The broadcaster issued fresh guidance for employees on Sunday after the UK government prohibited the use of TikTok on the phones of ministers and civil servants.
The BBC’s guidance marks a significant change of tone from the broadcaster after it has vigorously embraced TikTok over the past year, even hiring specialists for its social media team.
TikTok said it was “disappointed” by the BBC’s edict, adding that bans are “based on fundamental misconceptions” about the app’s security risk.
In the guidance sent today, obtained by Deadline, the BBC said: “We don’t recommend installing TikTok on a BBC corporate device unless there is a justified business reason.”
BBC employees were issued with the instruction after “concerns raised by government authorities worldwide regarding data privacy and security.”
In a Q&A on the guidance, the BBC asked itself: “Will the BBC ban the use of TikTok on corporate devices, or my personal device that I use for BBC work purposes?”
The answer: “We are currently reviewing the TikTok concerns and will provide further updates based on the government and National Cyber Security Centre guidelines.”
Senior BBC journalists have been warning about the corporation’s “obsession” with TikTok for months, with some alarmed that the company admitted to tracking reporters working for Forbes, BuzzFeed, and the Financial Times.
One BBC insider told Deadline that it was “not exactly the time to be uncritically throwing resources at a platform.” A TikTok source said at the time that it was happy to discuss security issues with BBC journalists and “allay any concerns that they have.”
The updated BBC guidelines follows Danish public broadcaster DR advising employees to stop using the app last week. A TikTok insider described the ban as “self-defeating” and pointed to its plan to create a “secure enclave for European TikTok user data” to help ease security concerns.
TikTok said: “We are disappointed with the guidance that the BBC has shared but welcome the fact TikTok can still be used as part of editorial, marketing and reporting purposes. The BBC has a strong presence on our platform, with multiple accounts from news through to music reaching our engaged community both in the U.K. and around the world.
“We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics. We remain in close dialogue with the BBC and are committed to working with them to address any concerns they have.”