Army cadets told to steer clear of Chinese social media app TikTok

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Army cadets have been instructed not to use the TikTok social media app while in uniform, an Army official told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. John Evans, head of U.S. Army Cadet Command, "directed all ROTC and JROTC units verify that the TikTok application was not being used for official purposes," Lt. Col. Nichole Downs, a spokeswoman, said in a statement. "No guidance was issued regarding Cadets' private use of TikTok."

Downs added that the Army had not issued more specific instructions related to TikTok, but noted the service has formal guidance that applies to all current and emerging social platforms.

In recent weeks, screenshots of purported emails shared with Task & Purpose by a source on condition of anonymity referenced instructions from Cadet Command "that all ROTC/JROTC programs are not to use TikTok as a platform for ROTC recruiting OR highlighting our program activities." Another asked recipients to "spread the word" to cadets that TikTok "is not authorized for use by Cadets."

"This platform has been banned for all Army representation," the email continued. "Reiterate that inappropriate dancing or activities in uniform are strictly prohibited. This is being driven from the Department of the Army level so it is clearly a major problem Army wide. What Cadets do on their own time is their business, but anything on TikTok cannot mention ROTC or be in uniform."

That certainly won't come as good news to cadets who have been enjoying the #rotc and #jrotc TikTok pages — of which there are plenty. And it's not just Army cadets, the other services have their fair share of ROTC videos spanning from the purest of pure content about being excited to be in uniform, to jokes about being in the service, to plenty of cringeworthy lip syncing and dancing.

At present, the guidance seems to only apply to Cadet Command. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point told Task & Purpose cadets there have not been "issued any specific guidance" on TikTok. The Department of the Army has not issued any service-wide guidance specifically for TikTok.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed concerns to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy about TikTok last week, urging him to "assess the potential national security risks posed by China-owned technology companies before choosing to utilize certain platforms."

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