LONDON: The UK Parliament shut down its TikTok account on Thursday over the platform’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.
“Based on member feedback, we are closing the pilot UK Parliament TikTok account earlier than we had planned,” a UK Parliament spokesperson said. “The account was a pilot initiative while we tested the platform as a way of reaching younger audiences with relevant content about Parliament.”
The ‘@ukparliament’ account was shut down only a week after its launch following a campaign by Conservative MPs.
“While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform,” a spokesperson for TikTok said.
Speakers of the House of Commons and Lords ordered officials to shut down the account saying that they “had not been consulted about its creation and had been made aware of reasons for concern.”
MPs also sent a letter last week requesting the account’s closure, saying that they were “surprised and disappointed” it had been launched after “recent reports have made clear that . . . TikTok data is routinely transferred to China.”
The signatories to the letter expressed their concerns over data security risks associated with the app and said the account should not be restored until TikTok is able to “reassure MPs that the company could prevent data transfer to ByteDance, should the parent company make a request for it.”
“The prospect of Xi Jinping’s government having access to personal data on our children’s phones ought to be a cause for major concern,” the letter adds.
TikTok said that it contacted the signatories of the letter, offering to “meet with them to understand their concerns and explain our data protection processes.”
Several MPs, including Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, use TikTok to engage with a younger audience, the social media platform said.
Last October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the opening of the official No 10 TikTok account, which currently records nearly 330,000 followers, with the intention “to be a place where we can put out messages and behind-the-scenes insights into what we’re getting done, so tune in.”