The BBC is investigating the TikTok ban and has told staff to remove the Chinese social media app from work phones unless they use it for editorial or marketing reasons.
The UK broadcaster issued fresh instructions to employees on Sunday after the UK government banned the use of TikTok on the phones of ministers and civil servants.
TikTok said it was “disappointed” by the BBC’s order, adding that the bans were “based on fundamental misunderstandings” about the app’s security risk.
The BBC’s guidance marks a significant shift in tone from the broadcaster after it has heavily embraced TikTok over the past year, even hiring experts to its social media team.
In guidance sent today, obtained by Deadline, the BBC said: “We do not recommend installing TikTok on a BBC business device unless there is a valid business reason to do so.”
BBC staff were given the instructions “following data privacy and security concerns raised by government authorities worldwide”.
In a Q&A on the guidelines, the BBC asked itself: “Does the BBC prohibit the use of TikTok on corporate devices or on my personal device that I use for BBC work?”
Response: “We are currently evaluating TikTok’s concerns and will provide additional updates based on guidance from the government and the National Cyber Security Center.”
Senior journalists at the BBC have warned of the company’s “obsession” with TikTok for months, with some concerned that the company admitted to stalking journalists from Forbes, BuzzFeed and the Financial Times.
A BBC insider told Deadline that “it was not the right time to uncritically throw resources at the platform”. A TikTok source said at the time that he was happy to discuss security issues with BBC journalists and “to limit their concerns”.
The updated BBC guidelines follow Danish broadcaster DR, which advised staff 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 ease security concerns.
TikTok said: “We are disappointed by the guidance shared by the BBC, but we are pleased that TikTok can continue to be used as part of editorial, marketing and reporting purposes. The BBC has a strong presence on our platform, with many accounts from news to music reaching our engaged community both in the UK and around the world.
“We believe these bans have been based on fundamental misunderstandings and driven by wider geopolitics. We continue to be in close dialogue with the BBC and are committed to working with them to address their concerns.