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Amazon instructs employees to delete TikTok from phones, then retracts the order

July 10, 2020, 6:06 PM UTC
Updated July 14, 2020, 6:20 PM UTC

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Amazon’s IT department told its workers they must remove TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, from their phones by today if the device in question has access to the company’s corporate email.

A source who did not wish to be named informed Fortune of the order on Friday morning, saying the company told him by email that it knew he had the app installed on his phone. Meanwhile, a reporter from the tech news site The Information tweeted a screenshot of the order:

The source who contacted Fortune said the message in the tweet above is accurate.

Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the alleged order or why it decided to issue it. But late on Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the company sent a statement saying the email had been sent “in error” and that “there is no change to our policies right now related to TikTok.”

The reported decree by Amazon is likely to increase scrutiny of TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. Critics say the app’s users are vulnerable to spying by authorities in China, where many companies lack independence from the ruling Communist Party.

The Amazon email, which stated employees could continue to access TikTok on their laptops, was sent in the same week that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump have called for banning TikTok. It’s unclear that a broad-based ban would be constitutional in the U.S., and civil rights lawyers have noted that the federal government may be able to do little more than forbid its employees from using TikTok.

TikTok has pushed back against claims that it is vulnerable to Chinese spying, and has pointed to its operations in the U.S. to indicate that it acts as an American company.

“While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community,” said the company in a statement.

Update: This story now contains Amazon’s statement that the email was sent in error.

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