SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Kristi Noem is taking a stand against the popular social media app TikTok.
The governor signed an executive order Tuesday that bans the use of the app for state government agencies, employees and contractors on state devices. That means those using state-owned or licensed devices cannot download the TikTok app or visit the website.
Noem said the decision is a result of a “growing national security threat.”
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence-gathering operations of nations who hate us,” said Noem. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access its user data such as browsing history and location. U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.
TikTok, which has exploded in popularity with a nearly addictive scroll of videos, has also struggled to detect ads that contain blatant misinformation about U.S. elections, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at New York University.
Noem isn’t the only South Dakota politician to speak out against the app. Last month, Congressman Dusty Johnson tweeted that “TikTok delivers garbage content to American students and educational content to Chinese students. We cannot trust this company.”
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken also expressed concerns on Twitter about the potential national security threat posed by the app, saying that it’s “…not as harmless as many believe.”
In 2020, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a similar executive order. The South Dakota executive order takes effect immediately.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Noem’s order and statement.
TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, based in Los Angeles, has previously said the company protects all data of American users and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.
Former President Donald Trump issued blanket-style orders against Chinese tech companies, but the White House under Joe Biden has replaced them with a narrower approach. U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.