on Friday afternoon reversed a demand that employees delete the TikTok app from company mobile devices, a shocking turnabout from a dictate that just hours before had stoked concern about the app’s security and ties to China.
The first message was dramatic enough, as the email directive to employees appeared to buttress recent scrutiny of TikTok security issues from governments in the U.S. and India.
Then, the second message, in which a spokesman called the email an error, backed away from what briefly appeared to be a major policy change. It was a rare instance in which such a shift played out in public for one of the world’s most valuable and closely watched companies.
What remained unclear late Friday was how many people within Amazon, if anyone, harbor concern about TikTok to such a degree that would have prompted the memo in the first place.
The now-retracted email was sent as an alert to thousands of Amazon employees early in the business day in Seattle: “Due to security risks, the TikTok app is no longer permitted on mobile devices that access Amazon email. If you have TikTok on your device, you must remove it by 10-Jul to retain mobile access to Amazon email. At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed.”
News of the decision broke and quickly went viral after it was reported by The Information tech news site, and within hours two U.S. senators responded enthusiastically.
“Now the whole federal government should follow suit,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said in a tweet.
Amazon had reversed itself by midafternoon on the West Coast. “This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” the Amazon spokesman said late Friday. “There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”