Amazon has said an internal email went out Friday to its employees asking them to delete the popular video app TikTok from their phones, was sent mistakenly
The online retailing giant appeared to backtrack roughly five hours after sending the message.
“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error," Amazon emailed reporters just before 5 p.m. Eastern time.
“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”
Company spokeswoman Jaci Anderson declined to answer questions about what caused the confounding turnaround or error.
The initial internal email, which was disseminated widely online, told employees to delete TikTok, a video app increasingly popular with young people but also the focus of intensifying national-security and geopolitical concerns because of its Chinese ownership.
The email cited the app's “security risks.”
An Amazon employee who confirmed receipt of the initial email but was not authorized to speak publicly had not seen a retraction at the time of Amazon's backtrack.
Amazon is the second-largest U.S. private employer after Walmart.
Moving against TikTok could have escalated pressure on the app in a big way, particularly if other companies did the same.
The U.S. military already bans TikTok on employee phones and the company is subject to a national-security review of its merger history.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week that the government was “certainly looking” at banning the app, setting off confused and irritated posts as well as jokes by TikTok users.
Chinese internet company ByteDance owns TikTok, which is designed for users outside of China; it also makes a Chinese version called Douyin. Like YouTube, TikTok relies on its users for the videos that populate its app.
It has a reputation for fun, goofy videos and is popular with young people, including millions of Americans.
But critics have cited concerns, including the possibility of TikTok censoring videos, such as those critical of the Chinese government, sharing user data with Chinese officials, and violating kids’ privacy.
TikTok has said it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to U.S. user data even if asked.