Michigan Governor Whitmer explains her TikTok use as app is banned on state phones

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer banned TikTok on government devices a year ago – but she continues to use the platform herself. That's creating a controversy in Lansing but she says her use is necessary to reach younger voters.

Whitmer banned the use of TikTok on all government devices in March 2023, around the same time that the same move was made by President Joe Biden. In short, if you are a federal or Michigan state employee, you cannot use TikTok on devices that are owned by the federal or state government. 

Biden made the move in February 2023. Whitmer followed suit and told FOX 2's Tim Skubick this week that it was done because she's concerned about the Chinese-owned platform mining information – especially from children. 

"We need some federal action when it comes to ensuring the integrity of all those platforms," Whitmer said.

However, the governor is still using the app to communicate with users.

"There is a security risk but we do recognize that there are a lot of people that get their information from TikTok," Whitmer said. "That's why we have a device that is dedicated simply to TikTok."

Whitmer says she sees the benefit of the app and also from other apps that utilize artificial intelligence – but she has no plans to let the platform write her next State of the State Address.

"I am cautiously optimistic about what AI is going to do in terms of our productivity and solving problems," Whitmer said.

The Governor will give her State of the State on Wednesday, January 24.

The governor recently explained that the state doesn't have TikTok on government devices but that the ban is not universal; state government is allowed for some agencies "if all criteria are met to protect the state's data" and her office reports the Michigan State Police are using the platform as part of their public safety mission.