Amazon has backtracked after telling its staff to delete TikTok from their work phones due to "security risks", amid growing concerns in the West about the Chinese viral video app.
In an internal memo on Friday, the online shopping giant told workers to remove TikTok from any mobile device with access to company email before the end of the day.
However, hours after the warning was published, Amazon said that the email was mistakenly sent to staff.
"This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error," a spokesman said. "There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”
Officials claim that the app's Chinese ownership gives Beijing's repressive government free access to the detailed personal data that it collects on Western users, many of whom are under 18.
TikTok has consistently claimed that it has never given data to the Chinese state and would not do so in future if it were asked.
In an email to employees titled "Action required: Mandatory removal of TikTok", Amazon said: "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 July 10 to retain mobile access to Amazon email. At this time, using TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser is allowed."
In response, TikTok said: "User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok – we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users.
"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.
"We're proud that tens of millions of Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection, including many of the Amazon employees and contractors who have been on the front lines of this pandemic."
Some Amazon workers quickly shared their frustration on social media at having to remove the popular app, which has enchanted adults as well as teenagers in the US and the UK.
One Amazon Prime employee, who later deleted their tweet, said they were was “extremely upset” that Amazon was “forcing all of their employees to delete TikTok from their phones”.
Amazon just told me I gotta delete TikTok. 👀 I never had it but what they been doin?— Rise AceDolo 🇵🇦 (@AceDoloX1) July 10, 2020
As a former Amazon employee, if they are giving this guidance internally, you all should delete TikTok off all of your devices immediately. https://t.co/6T6RU9bd6w— Bonstrosity Attacks! (@karma_thief) July 10, 2020
Shannel Mullan, a recruiting coordinator for the Seattle-based technology company shared a video of her deleting the app from her phone, writing: “I will remember you”.
Amazon has strict policies on third party software. It does not encourage employees to use Zoom, which has also faced criticism for its links to China, and has its own video streaming service called Chime.
TikTok has also faced consumer privacy scandals, with a lawsuit in the US state of Illinois alleging that it collected four teenagers' facial biometric data without asking for consent.
Last month the Telegraph reported that TikTok had been continually reading the text that its iPhone users copied and pasted while they had the app open, despite promising to stop months earlier.