Delta bans TikTok on employees’ personal cell phones, following similar Southwest rule

David Slotnick

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Delta Air Lines will prohibit its employees from using TikTok on their personal devices if those same devices are used to access any work-related system, the airline told employees Friday.

In a memo to employees seen by TPG and confirmed by multiple employees at the airline, the airline cited a U.S. requirement that government contractors not have TikTok or any program by parent company ByteDance on devices used to perform work for the government. Delta, like most airlines, sells flights to the government and offers charter operations.

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According to the memo, employees who use their personal phones or other devices, such as tablets, to access any Delta system — including e-mail, scheduling, the employee intranet and other systems — must remove the app by the end of the day on Friday. Many employees use their personal phones to manage their e-mail and schedules.

It was not immediately clear whether Delta would continue to use its own TikTok channel, which had more than 512,000 followers as of Friday evening. The airline did not immediately respond to TPG’s request for comment.

The memo, which was posted Friday, follows a similar rule instituted by Southwest Airlines first reported by Gary Leff. Southwest told employees that it would block the app from its network, but did not appear to impose restrictions on personal devices, although it was not immediately clear whether personal devices would still be allowed to be used to access work functions like email.

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It was not clear how other airlines, including American and United, which did not immediately return a request for comment, planned to react to the requirements.

As TikTok has grown in popularity, some government officials have raised privacy concerns and noted the possibility of the Chinese government exerting influence over the Beijing-based company to gain information about Americans.

Over the past several years, airlines, among other brands, have found success on TikTok with short-form videos spanning from wry self-deprecation to behind-the-scenes glimpses of operations.

Employees, too, have found resonance within smaller communities and the general global audience, with pilots, flight attendants, ramp workers and others documenting their lives at work and inside-jokes for their peers.

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