US Army bans TikTok app from government phones

The move follows Pentagon guidance and a similar ban by the US Navy.

Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
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Mounting security concerns are pushing the US military further from TikTok.

James Martin/CNET

The US Army has banned TikTok from use on government phones, reversing its policy on the entertainment app, which it recently used as a recruiting tool. The move, reported earlier by Military.com, follows guidance from the Pentagon. And earlier this month, the US Navy banned the Chinese app from government-issued mobile devices because of cybersecurity concerns.

Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok has drawn concern from US officials who worry that China's companies are under the thumb of the country's government and could use their products for spying. 

"The Army is following (Office of the Secretary of Defense) guidance on this," an Army spokesperson told CNET on Tuesday. "There was a Cyber Awareness Message sent out on 16 December that identifies TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use. The message directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information. 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." 

Last month, the US Army prohibited cadets from using TikTok, after Sen. Chuck Schumer expressed worries about Army recruiting efforts that used the app. Though the military can't ban personnel from using TiKTok on their personal phones, the Army advises members to exercise caution if they receive unfamiliar text messages.