TikTok has not been banned across France

21 May 2024
What was claimed

France has banned the video sharing platform TikTok.

Our verdict

This is misleading. The French government has banned TikTok in the overseas territory of New Caledonia amid recent riots, but hasn’t banned it being used on personal devices elsewhere. It is also banned on civil servants’ work phones.

Posts being shared on social media have claimed that France has “officially” banned the video sharing platform TikTok, but this is misleading. While the app has been banned in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia amid riots there, and on the work phones of civil servants, it is not prohibited generally.

We’ve found no reports—in the French media or on the government website or social media channels—of any wider ban. And while TikTok told us it would not be issuing a statement, a spokesperson for the platform told Reuters it had only been blocked in New Caledonia. 

The website for TikTok in France has also shared many recent articles about the company’s operations in the country, including that it is an official partner of the May 2024 Cannes Film Festival. 

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Ban in New Caledonia

While TikTok is still operating in mainland France, Corsica and other overseas territories, it has been banned in New Caledonia. This comes as a 12-day state of emergency has been declared on the French-ruled Pacific island, amid deadly riots concerning a constitutional reform bill that would allow French residents who’ve lived in New Caledonia for ten years to vote there. 

The state of emergency includes measures such as banning gatherings in certain areas and the sale of alcohol. Schools have reportedly been shut and a curfew put in place in the capital, Nouméag. 

Complaints against the decision to ban TikTok in New Caledonia were examined by France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’État, on 21 May, but there had been no reported outcome at the time of writing. 

A spokesperson for TikTok reportedly said last week: "It is regrettable that an administrative decision to suspend TikTok's service has been taken on the territory of New Caledonia, without any questions or requests to remove content from the New Caledonian authorities or the French government.” 

Ban for civil servants’ work phones

Separately, in March 2024 the French government banned “recreational” applications, including TikTok, on the work phones of civil servants. The Minister of Transformation and Public Service, Stanislas Guerini, said this was due to cybersecurity concerns. However, this does not apply to their personal devices or to the wider general public.

Similar measures restricting government staff from using the app on their work devices have also been introduced in the UK, US and Canada, and by the European Commission for its staff. TikTok is banned completely in India.

In response to the UK banning TikTok on government phones last year, the platform said it believed the move was “based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics”.

We’ve previously fact checked other claims relating to restrictions in France, including false claims that the country has banned halal slaughter and restricted internet access in certain neighbourhoods

Claims like these can spread quickly online and create confusion—it’s always worth checking whether information you see online comes from credible sources before sharing it. 

Image courtesy of Solen Feyissa

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