The UK parliament has closed its TikTok account following objections from senior Conservative politicians about the social video app’s connections to China.
The speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords said they had not been consulted on setting up the account and would close it immediately.
Last week, Tom Tugendhat MP, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, and Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, were among the signatories of a letter calling for the account to be taken down. Both have been banned from entering China or Hong Kong after consistently criticising China’s treatment of its Uyghur population.
In a reply to Tugenhadt, Duncan Smith and their colleagues, Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord McFall, the respective speakers of the Commons and Lords, said: “The account was an attempt to engage with younger audiences – who are not always active on our existing social media platforms – regarding the work of parliament. However, in light of your feedback and concerns expressed to us we have decided that the account should be closed with immediate effect.”
Announcing the launch last week, the UK parliament tweeted: “For starters, where’s the best spot to get your best selfie with the famous Tower?”
However, the launch drew criticism from senior Tories who also included the MPs Nusrat Ghani and Tim Loughton, and Lord Alton and Lady Kennedy. In their letter with Tugendhat and Duncan Smith, they pointed to TikTok’s ownership by a Chinese company, ByteDance, and warned that under a Chinese security law the company would be obliged to supply the personal data of users to the Beijing government. All have been banned from China and Hong Kong.
They urged parliament to take down the account “until credible assurances can be given that no data whatsoever can be transferred to China”.
A TikTok spokesperson said: “While it is disappointing that Parliament will no longer be able to connect with the millions of people who use TikTok in the UK, we reiterate the offer to reassure those Members of Parliament who raised concerns and clarify any inaccuracies about our platform”.