13:36 PM

TikTok or Not

Lt. Col. Paul Cianciolo 
National Marketing & Social Media Manager

Commanders shouldn’t approve the use of TikTok, a China-owned video sharing app, on behalf of Civil Air Patrol. This includes using the app to record video and then share that video to a different social media channel like Twitter.

The Departments of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and State Department have all banned the use of TikTok on government devices.

Security Threat
TikTok is a social media platform launched three years ago by a leading Chinese technology company. The app was one of the most downloaded apps last year, with 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone.

The platform doesn’t just cater to overseas Chinese users or focus on expanding in emerging economies. Teenagers across the globe are flocking to the app to record 15-second video clips of themselves singing and dancing.

Most probably don’t realize the app serves as a vessel that extends Beijing’s influence and control outside China. Communications might be restricted and monitored by Beijing.

Early last year, the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok $5.7 million to settle allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case.

Recent security vulnerabilities have also been found in the app. Bad actors can use social media platforms like this to more easily distribute malicious activity.

TikTok exposes us to very real risks from China. The use of this app on CAP-owned devices or online channels should be stopped immediately. Just like the interim change letter to CAPR 120-1, Information Technology Security, requires that CAP commercial cloud services be hosted inside the U.S. to avoid concerns with inadequate security controls, official CAP social media channels are safer when based in the U.S.

Official or Not
This is a good time to talk about the difference between official CAP and personal social media channels.

An official CAP channel means you’re speaking on behalf of Civil Air Patrol and are authorized to do so. That channel must be approved by a unit commander at the level the channel represents and be under the direction of an assigned public affairs officer, according to CAPR 190-1, Civil Air Patrol Public Affairs Program.

A personal channel is where you can express your own views and opinions. It’s important to remember that it mustn’t appear to others that you’re speaking on behalf of CAP.

If an average person could perceive that you’re speaking for CAP, then that crosses the line. There is no in-between. Members are encouraged, however, to share their positive CAP experiences and accomplishments on their personal social media accounts.

Since CAP can’t direct what personal social media channels you use, please be cautious if you do use TikTok personally. Don’t use the same username and password you use for your other personal online accounts, and avoid sharing CAP-related content.

If you have a question or concern about social media use within CAP, please email the national marketing and strategic communications team.