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TSA quits using TikTok videos, with national security concerns raised by senator

Use of the Chinese-owned social media app puts the agency at risk, says Sen. Chuck Schumer.

TSA has stopped using videos created in TikTok for its social media posts.
James Martin/CNET

The US Transportation Security Administration has stopped using TikTok videos in its social media posts, as reported earlier Monday by MarketWatch. The agency's ban on videos from the Chinese-owned social media app comes as Sen. Chuck Schumer sent a letter over the weekend outlining the US government's national security review of TikTok to TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

TSA denied ever publishing content on TikTok or owning an account, but said "a small number" of its employees used their personal devices to create videos in TikTok that were then used in TSA posts on other platforms.

That practice has been discontinued, a TSA spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

"[TSA] must acknowledge the ironic risk it's placing its own agency -- and potentially the public -- in with its continued use of the China-owned TikTok app," Schumer said in a statement Sunday. "Given the widely reported threats, the already-in-place agency bans and the existing national security concerns posed by TikTok, the feds cannot continue to allow the TSA's use of the platform to fly."

TikTok, a social media platform where users post short videos, was the most downloaded app of 2019 with more than 700 million downloads. But US politicians argued the Chinese-based company could pose a national security threat, and kicked off an investigation.

The US Army similarly banned TikTok from government phones after Pentagon guidance and a similar ban by the US Navy.

TikTok said Monday "the concerns are unfounded," but it will continue strengthening both security and discussions with government.

"We've recently reached out to several members of Congress to express an interest in meeting in the near future," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The security agency has TSA and Ask TSA accounts across American-owned social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using them to post humorous photos, memes and puns, usually about items people try to take with them through TSA.

Originally published Feb. 24, 2:40 p.m. PT.
Update, 3:16 p.m.: Adds comment from TikTok.

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