SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday issued an executive order banning state employees and contractors from accessing the video platform TikTok on state-owned devices, citing its ties to China.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access its user data like browsing history and location. U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.
TikTok, which has exploded in popularity with a nearly addictive scroll of videos, has also struggled to detect ads that contain blatant misinformation about U.S. elections, according to a recent report from nonprofit Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at New York University.
“The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform," Noem said in a statement.
BytDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Noem's order and statement.
TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, based in Los Angeles, has previously said the company protects all data of American users and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.
Former President Donald Trump issued blanket-style orders against Chinese tech companies, but the White House under Joe Biden has replaced them with a narrower approach. U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns.
This story has corrected the location of ByteDance’s headquarters. The company moved its headquarters from Beijing to Singapore in 2020.