Is it unwise for the MOD to stay on TikTok?

Watch: Is it safe for the MOD to keep its TikTok account?

"Delete the TikTok app from your mobile phone" is the advice from a former Army Intelligence Officer to military personnel after the Government announced it had banned the social media platform from all of its devices.

Only days before the ban, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) launched its own TikTok channel which has so far uploaded a handful of videos and amassed a following of more than 1,430 accounts. 

Forces News spoke to former intelligence officer Louise Jones to find out whether it is wise for the MOD to have its own TikTok account and what security risks are associated with the social media platform. 

On the surface, Ms Jones believes, it's a good idea for the MOD to have a TikTok account to appeal to and attract a younger audience.

She said: "TikTok is used a lot by the very young generation, and this is an audience that the MOD has to reach, right?

"It's where it's going to recruit the soldiers and airmen and Navy personnel of the future.

"So really, it's quite good that they're establishing a presence on the platform and they're tailoring their message to reach that audience," she added.

But while Tiktok may be useful for recruitment purposes, Ms Jones is certain that the Government has made the right decision to ban the app from official devices, and went as far as to say that military personnel should not have it on their private phones either.

Speaking to personnel who have personal Tiktok accounts, she said: "Delete them, delete the app. It's just not worth it."

The issue, the former Army officer says, is when it comes to how TikTok shares the data it gathers from devices.

TikTok is a Chinese app that was launched in 2016 and, according to Ms Jones, there is a risk that the data the app collects could be shared with Chinese national agencies.

The former intelligence officer explained that it is standard practice for mobile apps to gather location data, information about what other apps are on a device, and details of the networks it is connected to – even details of how much the device is used and when.

"For apps that are run by American companies it's a lot clearer about what they are and aren't sharing with official organisations, whereas that's not the case with the Chinese-run TikTok," the former intelligence officer said.

"I think here we do have a real risk particularly from location data. You can start to understand the orbat of a unit simply by being able to collect location data, " she added.


It is security concerns that have led to the UK Government device TikTok ban, announced by Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden. 

Following the announcement, the Ministry of Defence said it will not be deleting its Tiktok account, and that it has strict security measures in place to ensure the safety of MOD devices. 

Ms Jones added that the MOD would have had a risk assessment, and installed a firewall on its devices to minimise the security risk associated with using Tiktok. She also said the risk to the MOD from TikTok was "negligible".

The White House and European Commission have also banned the TikTok app from their devices.

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