Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday made excuses for using the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, despite Congress and most states partially or fully banning the app on government-issued devices.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Whitmer was pressed by host Jake Tapper on why she continues to use the app after concerns about data privacy sparked politicians across the country to take action.
“You’re active on TikTok,” Tapper began. “And I get it, it’s fun. But I deleted my app from my phone because so many people kept coming on my show saying, delete it, delete it, delete it. The Chinese government has access to your data. Is it appropriate for you to be on TikTok when the FBI says it’s a national security concern?”
“We use TikTok on one device that has nothing else on it,” Whitmer responded. “It is a communication tool. We don’t do it because it’s fun, although some people think what I put out there can be fun on occasion… But the point is, we have it on one device that has no access to anything else, because so many people get their information that way.”
“Whether we like it or not, that is a tool for disseminating important information,” she added. “And that’s how we use it. But we’re always evaluating because we want to make sure that we are protecting data in Michigan. And that’s why we’re always evaluating. But, at this point, the way we use it is secure.”
But when pressed again by Tapper about the negative effects on Americans’ mental health, Whitmer admitted that young people need to learn that the app is not a reliable source of information.
“We need to have some congressional measures taken to ensure that there is some integrity in it,” she said. “But, also, we got to teach our kids that this is not a real robust offering of information, for you to distill and make your own decisions.”
Whitmer’s official TikTok account, @biggretchwhitmer, has more than 190,000 followers.
Governors and lawmakers in 32 of the 50 states have taken action to ban the app from being used on state-owned devices. Four other states have similar proposed bills in their state legislatures. Congress also included a provision in the $1.7 trillion omnibus budget bill late last year, which banned the app from federal government devices. Government leaders have all cited the app’s excessive data permissions requests and the security risks it could pose.