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First it was state governments, now universities in the US are banning TikTok on their campuses. With over 25 states restricting the use of TikTok on state-owned equipment, public schools are the latest to follow as more than a dozen major higher education institutions including Auburn University, the University of Georgia and Oklahoma State University, have banned the app either from school-owned devices, the campus network, or both. The latest to join the ban is the University of Texas, Austin, where more than 52,000 students are affected as well as The University of Wisconsin.
The ban is based on concerns that the volume of personal information collected by TikTok could be used by a company or government to track or target prominent people with misinformation or influence campaigns. U.S. officials claim that the Chinese government might use TikTok to push pro-China narratives or misinformation. There are also concerns that the company is sending masses of user data to China, in breach of stringent European privacy rules. TikTok has said it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government and has strict access controls on user data for its employees and those of its parent company, ByteDance Ltd.
While concerns about the potential misuse of personal data and potential influence campaigns by the Chinese government are valid, it’s important to note the impact of this ban on the daily lives of students who use the app for entertainment and social interaction.