Many public universities across the US have already started banning the popular social media app TikTok. Recently, two of the country’s largest colleges followed suit in banning the platform from campus networks and devices.
The two latest universities to join in on the US fight against the Beijing-owned TikTok are the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. This sudden uptake in universities banning the social media platform comes from the executive orders issued by several state governors. The University of Texas’s Technology Strategy Advisor sent an email to all students informing them of this ban. Included in the letter, they also stated that the university is taking these steps to comply with Governor Gregg Abott’s directive against the platform.
Governor Abott isn’t the only one that places greater emphasis on banning TikTok from government and now public educational centers. He merely joins other states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, and South Dakota that have already implemented this ban in public universities.
However, along with banning the app from public universities, Governor Abbot also banned TikTok from any government devices in early December. The main reason given for these bans is concerns related to data security and privacy stemming from the app’s Chinese ownership.
Governor Abbot listed these concerns as a growing threat and gave Government agencies until February to plan and implement the necessary changes. However, none of the other potentially harmful concerns were mentioned.
The staff at Texas University cited that they’re taking the necessary steps to ensure any information and data contained on the University network is safe. Banning TikTok from university networks and university-owned devices should eliminate the risk of this information getting out to other countries.
According to the governor’s directive, TikTok harvests an excessive amount of information from users device’s. This includes data related to when, where, and how they use the internet. This information, which could contain troves of personal or sensitive information, is then delivered to the Chinese government.
At the moment, TikTok still finds itself in a strange predicament amongst the US population. While the popularity of the app continues to remain strong, it’s also under intense scrutiny at the federal and state levels. Even though the Biden administration banned TikTok from Government devices and networks, the concerns were initially raised by the Trump administration.
Ironically, the US government is taking such a stand against TikTok, while many other apps headquartered in the US also use similar tactics in harvesting data, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, since these are US headquartered companies, they have more recourse when pushing back against these policies.
Regardless of what the general public thinks of the ongoing TikTok controversy, the bans on the app in universities will continue. Many students simply stated that if they can’t use the app on campus networks, they’ll simply switch to their data plans to access TikTok. This brings with it other concerns such as bans creating inequality among peers while also limiting free expression. We look forward to seeing what the response will be to the new concerns.