Tool of the Week: TikTokking Team Evers

Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 12, 2022

MADISON — While several states move to ban the use of TikTok on government devices because of increased security concerns, Gov. Tony Evers and his team just keep TikTokking away.

Last week, Texas became the latest state to prohibit the social media app in state government, following Maryland, South Dakota, South Carolina and Nebraska.

Members of Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation are calling on Evers to do the same, and to delete his own TikTok account.

They got a snarky response from the Democrat’s flack, Britt Cudaback.

“We will continue to defer to the judgment and advice of law enforcement, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence experts regarding this and other evolving cybersecurity issues,” Cudaback told media outlets, laughing off concerns in saying her “favorite part” of the lawmakers’ letter was that it could have been a phone call.

The judgment of the law enforcement, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence community is in. They have serious misgivings about government employees using a technology with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

And, as the MacIver Institute’s Heather Smith reported last week, TikTok is a bi-partisan concern.

In 2019, TikTok’s parent company paid a nearly $6 million fine to the Federal Trade Commission for collecting personal information from minors. In July 2020 then-President Donald Trump suggested a ban on the app. Later that month, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden told his campaign staff to delete TikTok from their work and personal phones just weeks before the New York Times published an article revealing the browser inside the app was built to track every keystroke made by users. Nearly every Democrat in congress supported an overwhelmingly bipartisan provision in the 2021 defense policy bill banning federal employees from using the app on any government device. Last month, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (R-Va.) echoed concerns of the Federal Communications Commission and the FBI, who have called for a U.S. ban, saying Trump was right to be concerned.

But Tony and his team are taking an Alfred E. Neuman approach on TikTok — What, me worry?

Actually, Evers’ Department of Natural Resources has taken a downright insipid position on the app. As Smith notes, the agency has wasted taxpayer money using TikTok like a pre-teen, pumping out juvenile vid clips for purposes that aren’t entirely clear to the reasonable mind.

While tens of thousands of jobless Wisconsinites in the summer of 2020 were waiting for Evers’ incompetent Department of Workforce Development to deliver their unemployment checks, DNR’s TikTok chief was pumping out clips of state employees making a sandcastle marble racecourse.

Clip after insipid clip shows DNR staff using somebody’s version of humor to promote the agency and its services. And DNR promoted its TikTok guru to a job paying $70,000+.

So not only is TikTok a security risk, it’s an insufferable waste of money.

Cybersecurity experts say the app is a social media tool of China’s communist government. Evers and his administration are the tools that continue to use it.

And they are Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.

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