A mailman, a NASA scientist and a park ranger: Some government employees shrug off TikTok bans


Emmanuelle Jean-Pierre is an aspiring author . Who plans to publish her first novel for young adults later this year. And, at least for now, he’s a letter carrier for the US Postal Service hungry for a regular creative outlet. NASA

And for that he turned to . TikTok, where he’s a rising star in the online community known as Manny . The Mailman and #mailtok, a hashtag with 24.5 million views.

Jean-Pierre, who hails from Morristown. New Jersey, has attracted 215,500 followers on the video app . Where he posts most days from his mail truck during his lunch break. The videos cover topics ranging from how to spot junk mail
It even called on soldiers to delete it from personal phones. Since last month, all federal. Employees have been banned from having TikTok on their work phones. NASA

But a few searches on . TikTok reveal a different reality: Some government employees like posting there. And they haven’t stopped. NASA

Army pilots took video from inside the helicopters they flew. Park rangers talk about the wonders of nature. An air traffic controller dissects a near collision on an airport runway. And foreign service officers recruit future diplomats from underrepresented groups.

Their use of TikTok indicates how difficult it can be to enforce the latest restrictions on . The app or any new restrictions politicians may come up with.

“TikTok is a good audience for climate change,” said Peter Kalmas, a climate scientist at . NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, who insisted he was speaking for himself, not the agency.

He has amassed 253,800 followers on TikTok after posting 22 videos. He started his account last year after he was arrested in an act of civil disobedience . Outside a Chase bank office for investing in fossil fuels. His first video got 1.3 million views.
Kalmus, like Jean-Pierre, uses a personal phone to post and doesn’t claim to speak for his agency. But the trajectory of federal restrictions has federal workers and contractors. like him wondering how long they can continue using TikTok. without results. NASA

In some places, using a personal device isn’t enough to get around TikTok restrictions. NASA  An order by state governors has banned students . At some public universities from using . The app on campus networks.

Kalmus said it would be a shame if the restrictions spread. NASA

“This is exactly what the audience needs to hear about climate change,” he said. “They’re more interested in hearing about climate change than the Twitter audience. They’re younger. It doesn’t feel polarized.”

He said he was concerned about TikTok’s . Chinese ownership but didn’t think there was anything on his . Personal phone that he would be embarrassed about. And he said there is a trade off.


“It still seems worth the risk to reach audiences about climate,” he said.

The battle over . TikTok’s future is between its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, and its. American investors against foreign policy hawks who criticize its relationship with China. The app has been in talks with the Biden administration about new security measures. But no deal has been reached so far, and media investigations into . TikTok have highlighted examples of privacy blunders. NASA

Caught in the middle are government workers who, more than others, live by the whims of lawmakers. Federal employees have also been prime targets for . Hacking attempts, including a massive data breach disclosed in 2015. That officials blamed on China.

It’s unclear whether any federal . Agencies are enforcing the latest ban on government-owned devices. The No TikTok on Government Devices Act gave the . White House Office of Management and. Budget 60 days to come up with guidelines, and that deadline is about a month away. The office declined to comment.

The office of Sen. Josh Hawley. R-Mod., who sponsored the new law, did not respond to a request for comment on how it would be implemented. This week, he revived the law by proposing a total national ban on TikTok. NASA

John Sullivan said he had never posted a TikTok until last summer when he was working for the . US Forest Service in Colorado’s Arapahoe National Recreation Area.

“I’m 35, so I don’t know anything about TikTok,” he said. (TikTok doesn’t release exact data on the age of its users, but it has long skewed toward the young.) NASA

Then, one day on the spur of the moment, a 22-year-old colleague suggested they shoot a video. And together they created an educational message about. The dangers of toxic algae found in Colorado. Sullivan used a cucumber as. A pointing device and began calling himself the Cucumber Ranger.
But banning a social media app is a different project, especially when it’s available in a web browser. NASA

Many videos of government workers are informative in . That they provide expertise outside . Of normal channels — for example, a letter carrier explaining . Why a house is on a delivery route.including the Foreign Service. NASA

Public relations staff at some federal agencies have said . They have no plans to interfere with what federal workers do themselves.

“These TikTok users are speaking in their personal capacity,” said Emma Duncan. A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which employs air traffic controllers. NASA

Sullivan, who worked for the Forest Service. Said he enjoyed using TikTok and may use it again in future government jobs. But said it wouldn’t be a big loss for him if he faced restrictions. He said he remembers the heyday of MySpace.

“, it will be a loss, but the way I see social media working . A new social media app will take its place in a few months,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *