Navy’s TikTok Disaster: Conservative Senators Demand Answers on Banned App Use

Fourteen conservative Senators in the United States have raised questions regarding the Navy's "Digital Ambassador" Pilot Program. They have written to the Secretary of the Navy, Carlos Del Toro, requesting a detailed explanation and additional information regarding the recent selection of a TikTok drag queen influencer for the program. The Senators have valid concerns about the promotion of an app that has been banned and behavior that is considered inappropriate in a professional environment. 

These concerns are justified since the No TikTok on Government Devices Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022. The act was a response to genuine fears that China may use its legal and regulatory authority to acquire private user data or spread misinformation or narratives in favor of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The senators have valid concerns about the Navy's use or endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party spy app, TikTok, which is banned on government smartphones for recruitment purposes. With China's track record of compromising the personal information of millions of federal employees, there is a risk that the CCP could use the same micro-targeting methods employed in recruitment to target the cleared workforce, their families, and close associates. The Navy must prioritize the privacy and security of its service members and ambassadors by refraining from promoting the use of TikTok on their personal devices.

Moreover, the senators expressed unease about the Navy's support of the personal posts made by its influencers and ambassadors. The senators questioned where the Navy draws the line on promoting the personal activities of its influencers, and whether it would even consider recruiting burlesque or exotic dancers. Such actions are inappropriate for a professional workplace or the United States military and should not be promoted.

The current military recruiting crisis demands that a broader eligible population be targeted, but not at the expense of privacy, security, or professionalism. The senators have reminded the Secretary of the Navy to adhere to both the letter and the spirit of the law and its own social media policies while modernizing its recruitment campaigns to establish a powerful and professional fleet capable of defending America's interests, deterring aggression, and preserving the freedom of the seas.

As a result, the senators have requested the Navy to provide answers to a series of questions by May 24 about the Digital Ambassador Pilot Program's status, the expenditure of federal funds on the program, and the recruiters' and public affairs officers' use of TikTok. It is imperative for the Navy to respond promptly and provide answers to these legitimate concerns raised by the senators.

Written by Staff Reports

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