Why are universities banning TikTok? Campuses are limiting use on school devices and Wi-Fi (2023)

Leon Ondieki earns a living filming and posting TikTok videos on college campuses. He built up his following just before he enrolled at the University of Georgia and has amassed 2.1 million followers– which helped pay for his tuition and a car.

As a growing number of universities ban the wildly popular social media platform on school-owned devices and networks, Ondieki is adapting, posting on YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight. Now taking a gap year, he outfitted thesprinter van for his upcoming tour with Starlink, a broadband internet service,and a hot spot so he doesn't have to rely on campus Wi-Fi.

"For any content creator who's in school, I can see how this would be frustrating, especially considering that some content creators have made a lot of money for their schools," he said, pointing to high-profileathletes like Olympic gold medalistSunisa Lee, who competes for Auburn University–which has banned the app –and who has more than 1.6 million TikTok followers

The University of Texas at Austin this week became one of the latest to announce it isrestricting access to TikTok. Universities in Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia also are among those limiting access and shutting down official university accounts. The colleges often cite recent state and federal level bans whentaking action.

(Video) University Of Texas Blocks TikTok From Campus Wi-Fi—Here Are The Other Colleges Banning The App

The bans come aftermore than 30 stateshave issued varying TikTok bans, Congress banned TikTok from most government-issued devices, and the U.S. armed forcesbanned the app on military devices.

Experts say that although the measures don't fully bar TikTok, they can inhibit faculty’s research, teaching and ability to connect with students.

Which schools have banned TikTok?

  • Alabama:Auburn Universityannounced last month that users will not be able to access TikTok on university internet services afterGov. Kay Iveybannedits use on state-owned devices.New posts on university-affiliated TikTok accounts will be allowed,just not using university Wi-Fi, spokesperson Preston Sparks told USA TODAY.
  • Arkansas: Arkansas State Universitychief communication officerBill Smithtold KATV TikTok is no longer available for students using universityWi-Fi, saying school officials"feel compelled to go along with what's requested of us from the state government."
  • Georgia:The University System of Georgia banned TikTok on devices owned by the system and its 26 universities and colleges. Chancellor Sonny Perdue said in a memo that students, faculty and staff can still useTikTok on devices owned byuniversity-related foundations if theydon'taccess personal information or sensitive information related to university business.
  • Idaho: To comply with Gov. Brad Little's executive order in december, officials at Idaho State Universityblocked TikTok on its networks, asked employees to remove the app from state-owned devices and deactivated its official TikTok account, spokesperson Emily Frandsen said. Student organizations can stillrun TikTok accounts, she said. TikTok has been banned from state-owned devices at the University of Idaho, but personally owned devices can still use TikTok "on student or guest networks," according to the school's technical support page.Boise State Universitynotifiedstudents and faculty of a similar ban in December,The Idaho Statesman reported.
  • Iowa:The Iowa Board of Regents directed the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to remove TikTok from all school-owned devices and stop using school-owned TikTok accounts in December.
  • Montana: All 16 schools under in theMontana University System must remove TikTok from all school-owned devices, block the appfrom campus Wi-Fi and deactivate all official school accounts, according to a directive from the commissioner of higher education.But schools may provide exceptions for approved educational or research purposes.
  • Oklahoma:In December,Oklahoma State University, The University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahomaimplemented similar bans on TikTok.But after learning Gov. KevinStitt's order does not apply to public universities, the University of Oklahoma is reviewing TikTok security concernsand has "paused changes to university-administered accounts until the completion of our review," spokesperson Jacob Guthrie told USA TODAY.
  • In South Dakota:The executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents said in December thatstate universitieswill obey the governor'sTikTok ban on state devicesand will deleteTikTok accounts, The South Dakota Searchlight reported.
  • Texas: The University of Texasat Austin recently removed TikTok from all government-issued devices and blocked access to TikTok on its networks to comply with a directive in December from Gov. Greg Abbott, according to a statement fromJeff Neyland, adviser to the president for technology strategy.The University of Houston Systemscanned more than 20,000 university-owned devicesand removed TikTok from the six where it was found, spokesperson Shawn Lindsey told USA TODAY.Texas A&M Universityalsorestricted access to TikTok from state-owned devices and is in the process of blocking access to the app on campus Wi-Fi, spokesperson Laylan Copelin said.

Why ban TikTok?

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and some worry thatit could share sensitive data with the Chinese government.FBI Director Christopher Wraytold Congress in November that he is “extremely concerned” China could weaponize data collected through the app.

Higher education institutions are being cautious because they could lose public funding or be sued if there's a majority security breach, said Vanessa Dennen, professor ofinstructional systems and learning technologies at Florida State University, which has no ban.

(Video) Some universities are now restricting TikTok access on campus

"Personnel data, student data, our research data – the protection of data is something that we're highly concerned with," Dennen said."There seems to be sufficient reasonable concernfrom a data security issue or standpointand it's not unusual for universities to have this kind of a concern."

Do TikTok bans work?

The restrictions do not erase TikTok from campus, Dennen said: Users can still access the app on personal devices using cellular data.

University of Texas at Austin professors NatalieStroud and Samuel Woolleyquestioned whether the ban will have the intended security effect given staff are able to access university systems on their personal devices as well.

"It's unclear to me what the specific threat is of potential data gathered by the Chinese government," Woolley added.

(Video) The University of Texas at Austin campus has blocked access to TikTok on campus Wi-Fi

How will the bans affect students and faculty?

For Stroud and Woolley, part of the university'sCenter for Media Engagement,the ban means they'll no longer be able to share information with students through the center's TikTok channel or share videos in classes.They said the ban will keep them from being able to effectively teach and research disinformation, misinformation and other forms of propaganda spreading on TikTok.

"If you're not able to relate to them with a communication medium that many of them use frequently, that's a significant handicap," Stroud said.

University faculty and staff also use the app torecruit students and engage with the school community and athletic fans.

"It isn't just the research," Dennen said. "It is the marketing of the universities, of the institutions that would be affected."

(Video) Some universities are now restricting TikTok access on campus

Sixty-seven percentof U.S. teenagers say they use TikTok, according to thePew Research Center.ButDennen said she doesn't believe the bans will have a major impact onmost students.

"People will have their workarounds, and their workarounds are not going to be tremendously difficult or cumbersome," Dennen said.

UT Austin professors:Why the TikTok ban needs university exemptions

How has TikTok responded to the bans?

The company is "disappointed" by the recent state-level bans, Jamal Brown, a spokesperson for TikTok, told USA TODAY.

(Video) TikTok banned on campuses; Universities block TikTok access amid privacy concerns

"We're disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok," Brown said. "We're especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities' ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more."

Dig deeper

  • Banning TikTok?Restrictions on the popular video app are spreading across the US
  • Here's what we know:Congress OKs TikTok ban, $1.7 trillion spending plan with Ukraine aid
  • Is TikTok the new Google?Why TikTok is Gen Z's favorite search engine
  • The power of social media:TikToker uses massive reach to track down racist, homophobic suspects, tries to keep mob in check

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact Breaking News Reporter N'dea Yancey-Bragg at nyanceybra@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @NdeaYanceyBragg


Why is TikTok banned on college campuses? ›

Why universities are banning TikTok. The bans stem from security concerns regarding the app's China-based parent company ByteDance. U.S. security experts are worried ByteDance could share its extensive collection of data on American users with the Chinese government.

What is the reason behind ban of TikTok? ›

India permanently banned TikTok along with more than 50 other Chinese apps after a deadly border dispute with China, citing national security concerns. National bans in other countries have not lasted more than, at most, a few months.

How are universities using TikTok? ›

TikTok Gets Into College

According to a running list of universities(Open Link in new window) on TikTok, Higher Ed institutions are using the platform in hopes of connecting with GenZ by increasing awareness and “connecting and engaging with Gen Z audiences in a fun and relatable way.”

Why is my device banned from TikTok? ›

When you receive your first violation: We'll send a warning in the app the first time your content violates our Community Guidelines. If the violation is a zero-tolerance policy, it will result in an automatic ban. We may also block a device to help prevent future accounts from being created.

Why TikTok is not good for education? ›

While TikTok could be used to better engage students in lessons, it's also been a big distraction. A string of viral challenges on the platform have caused headaches for educators. And like with other social media platforms, TikTok could be a forum for bullying and misinformation, along with data privacy concerns.

Do universities look at your TikTok? ›

The impression that you make on a college admission officer may involve more than just an essay, a transcript, and some test scores. According to new data, colleges and universities do pay attention to what prospective students post on TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Can you be shirtless on TikTok? ›

TikTok's nudity rules state that content that is "overly revealing of breasts, genitals, anus, or buttocks" will not be allowed on the platform, and say they "do not allow nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content on our platform." Similar guidelines are also enforced across other social media platforms.

Who owns TikTok now? ›

It took 2 years to become the most downloaded app in the USA in 2018. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Shou Zi Bite became the CEO of TikTok in May 2021.

What is TikTok controversy? ›

Now TikTok is facing its own similar scandals, topped by concerns that the app is handing US user data over to Chinese authorities.

Is TikTok a distraction for students? ›

While TikTok could be used to better engage students in lessons, it's also been a big distraction. A string of viral challenges on the platform have caused headaches for educators. And like with other social media platforms, TikTok could be a forum for bullying and misinformation, along with data privacy concerns.

What is the impact of TikTok in academic performance? ›

The results revealed that TikTok brought a significant effect on academic achievement. The students also showed a positive response to the use of TikTok, in which 84% of the students found it easier to understand to course materials using TikTok, 80% of the students had better motivation to study course materials.

Why does TikTok not work at my school? ›

The firewall will block traffic to IP addresses and domain names associated with the TikTok app. It can also scan for headers in data packets that may identify identify TikTok usage. Policy — Many schools simply ban the app by rule, stating that it can't be used on school property or during class time.

Where is TikTok banned? ›

Nearly half the states have banned the app on state-owned devices, including Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Congress also recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security.

How many warnings until you get banned on TikTok? ›

After 4-5 TikTok violations, you'll likely get banned, temporarily or permanently. Read below to find out more about this!

How old do you have to be to have TikTok? ›

2. Does TikTok have a minimum age? TikTok's Terms of Service state that users must be at least 13 years old to sign up for an account and have full access to the platform, in compliance with the U.S.'s Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

What is the negative impact of TikTok on students? ›

The more participants felt they lost track of time on TikTok, the more likely they were to become distracted on TikTok when they were supposed to be paying attention in class, and when they were supposed to be completing their schoolwork.

What is the negative impact of TikTok? ›

TikTok, and other social networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, have been criticized for having negative effects on one's confidence. This can deeply hurt one's mental health. There have been instances where kids turned to self-harm or faced other issues, such as anorexia and bulimia, because of social media.

What are some negative impacts of TikTok? ›

TikTok Can Lead to Self-Harm and Eating Disorders – Issues like these are prevalent among teenagers. Since many young people who struggle mentally face these disorders, they will talk about this subject matter with some frequency on TikTok.

Do colleges look you up on the internet? ›

Yes, colleges can look at the public version of your social media accounts, but they don't have some sort of secret, government-like power to access your private information. It's much more likely that your social media behavior would only be brought to their attention if it causes a stir.

How does social media affect college admissions? ›

About 19% said they check social media profiles “often” when making admissions decisions, up from 11% last year. Of the admissions officers who checked applicants' social media profiles, 38% said what they found had a positive impact on their decision to admit students, while 32% said it had a negative impact.

Do universities check your social media? ›

So, do colleges check your social media? Yes. In fact, what students post on social media can greatly affect not only acceptance odds, but they can get acceptances revoked if unsuitable and offensive material is found.

Can TikTok see your face? ›

In the US, TikTok can collect biometric information including face and voiceprints.

Can you drink alcohol on TikTok live? ›

We do not allow the depiction, promotion, or trade of drugs or other controlled substances. The trade of tobacco and alcohol products is also prohibited on the platform.

What should I avoid in TikTok? ›

What Will Get You Banned on TikTok?
  • Sharing Content That Threatens Public Safety. ...
  • Sharing Sexually Explicit Content. ...
  • Posting Content That Depicts or Glorifies Self-Harm. ...
  • Sharing Violent or Graphic Content. ...
  • Posting Content That Promotes Illegal Activities. ...
  • Blackmail Threats. ...
  • Spam, Impersonation, and Misinformation.
Mar 4, 2022

Is TikTok a Chinese-owned company? ›

TikTok, deployed in China as Douyin (Chinese: 抖音; pinyin: Dǒuyīn), is a short-form video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It hosts user-submitted videos, which can range in duration from 15 seconds to 10 minutes.

Who is TikTok owned by in America? ›

TikTok is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance.

What company owns TikTok in us? ›

Key Takeaways

The app was launched in 2016 by the Chinese technology company ByteDance. Now available in more than 150 different markets, TikTok has offices in Beijing, Los Angeles, Moscow, Mumbai, Seoul, and Tokyo. The app saw about 1 billion global daily users by early 2022.

Why did Trump want to get rid of TikTok? ›

In 2020, the U.S. government announced that it was considering banning the Chinese social media platform TikTok upon a request from then-U.S. president Donald Trump, who viewed the app as a national security threat.

Why did China ban TikTok? ›

No, TikTok is not banned in China, it just isn't available under the same name. Although it is true that TikTok is not available for download in mainland China, it is not banned. The Chinese version of TikTok is actually the original version of the app, called Douyin.

Should I be worried about TikTok? ›

As far as social-media platforms go, TikTok is safe — but there are some caveats! The app doesn't contain malware and it doesn't steal its users' personal information, but that's not to say using TikTok doesn't come with any risks. Our home is safe, but we still use a home security system.

How does TikTok affect high school students? ›

Some of the issues behind TikTok include

Tik Tok videos are never-ending, and young people can waste many hours, which means young people retreat to bedrooms and spend many hours following, liking and commenting on posts. This can then create stress when school work and study are not complete.

How does TikTok affect mental health? ›

The algorithm reinforces, amplifies, and exacerbates identity around mental illness, or around the symptoms that they're experiencing. It's amplifying the personality psychopathology that's giving rise to the other aspects that they're identifying with, like common clinical mental illness.

What are negative and positive impact of using TikTok? ›

Many users on tiktok tend to spread positivity and awareness about important topics, such as self-love. One of the negative effects of TikTok is how time consuming the app is. Users may spend hours scrolling through the “for you page”, forgetting about real life.

Does TikTok has positive impact on the academics of the students? ›

(Para) distraction for students, As discussed above, TikTok is a great tool for education, however, when used during study time, it can be a huge distraction. Using your phone while in school is usually discouraged, and social media apps divert attention away from the lesson at hand.

Is TikTok harmful or beneficial? ›

Why TikTok Is Harmful. Since TikTok exploded so quickly, research is still being done on the effects it has on society and mental health. However, there are some things we do know about TikTok: it's addictive, it can negatively impact mental health, it sets unrealistic standards, and it's a hot spot for cyberbullying.

What are the disadvantages of TikTok in a school environment? ›

Addiction: Since the app boasts an “endless stream” of material, students are likely to spend a long time in the app and might even become addicted to watching the videos for hours at a time. Bullying: A high school principal in New York tells Smart Social Founder Josh Ochs that students are being bullied on TikTok.

Why kids shouldn't be allowed on TikTok? ›

TikTok can be a kid-friendly experience if you supervise your kids, use safety settings, and stick to songs you already know. But TikTok's emphasis on popular music means many videos include swearing and sexual lyrics, so it may not be age-appropriate for kids to use on their own.

Why do certain apps not work on school wifi? ›

Most likely your school's WiFi has some restriction or limitations regarding the applications or services that can be used with it. The school wifi has blocked those apps. So to use those apps on your school wifi install a VPN app on your device. I have used “Psiphon” on my android phone and it worked for me.

Why is TikTok banned in some places? ›

The Indian authorities chose to ban the app citing concerns related to national security. The ban in India is permanent and the company has withdrawn from the south Asian country's market. The Taliban took over the government in 2021 and ordered a ban on TikTok the same year.

Is TikTok getting banned in 2023? ›

Biden signs TikTok ban for government devices, setting up a chaotic 2023 for the app. The ban came as part of the 4,126-page spending bill and follows several state government bans of the app. President Joe Biden approved a limited TikTok ban Thursday when he signed the 4,126-page spending bill into law.

Is TikTok banned everywhere? ›

While not completely banned in Russia, its status is tenuous. As the Guardian reported in March 2022, TikTok only allowed Russian content to feature in the country. In other countries, however, the controversial app is banned outright.

Can you show guns on TikTok? ›

Weapons. We do not allow the depiction, promotion, or trade of firearms, ammunition, firearm accessories, or explosive weapons. We also prohibit instructions on how to manufacture those weapons.

What is shadow banning on TikTok? ›

The term "shadow ban" has popped up frequently in relation to TikTok and other social media apps, with most users using it to refer to when a platform seemingly begins to show a creator's content to fewer users and their content abruptly stops performing well.

Why did I get permanently banned from TikTok? ›

Accounts that consistently violate Community Guidelines will be banned from TikTok. If your account has been banned, you will receive a banner notification when you next open the app, informing you of this account change. If you believe your account was banned incorrectly, let us know by submitting an appeal.

Why are schools closing over TikTok? ›

An alleged new trend on TikTok is causing schools across the United States to close and cancel classes for today, Friday, December 17. As reported by The Verge, school districts in California, Texas, Minnesota, and Missouri have all said they plan to close on Friday due to threats of violence being made on TikTok.

Why was TikTok almost banned in the US? ›

On August 6, 2020, President Trump first attempted to ban TikTok in the U.S. with an executive order outlawing transactions between ByteDance and U.S. citizens. He cited national security concerns.

In what places is TikTok banned? ›

TikTok was banned in India because the country believes the app is a threat to its national security and the privacy of its citizens.
Why Are Some Countries Banning TikTok?
LocationBanned StatusReason
IndonesiaCensoredInappropriate content
BangladeshCensoredInappropriate content
5 more rows

Is TikTok distracting students? ›

While TikTok could be used to better engage students in lessons, it's also been a big distraction. A string of viral challenges on the platform have caused headaches for educators. And like with other social media platforms, TikTok could be a forum for bullying and misinformation, along with data privacy concerns.

Why are kids staying home from school because of TikTok? ›

(KTTC) – Around the country Friday, some parents kept their students home from school after a threat of gun violence started circulating on a popular social media app, TikTok.

What is the TikTok challenge affecting schools? ›

From "devious licks" to "swatting," TikTok challenges are causing disruptions – including vandalization, theft and false police reports – in schools around the country.

How serious is the TikTok school threat? ›

Every threat will be taken seriously. Students engaged in making threats will be subject to serious disciplinary action and legal consequences.

What's the issue with TikTok? ›

For one, the lawmakers said the app can track users' locations and collect internet browsing data even from unrelated websites — adding that Beijing could develop profiles on millions of Americans for blackmail or espionage purposes, as well as collect sensitive national security information from U.S. government ...

Why should TikTok not be banned? ›

In the end if Tiktok does get banned it could lead to a big cultural impact on students and the younger generations that use it. People think of Tik Tok as a silly app where you can do dances but that's only one side of it. Tik Tok is a platform for many voices and away people express their creativity.

When was TikTok banned in the US? ›

On 30 December 2022, President Joe Biden approved the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, prohibiting the use of the app on devices owned by the federal government, with some exceptions.

What is the negative side of TikTok? ›

Some experts believe that TikTok's algorithm can promote content related to depression, anxiety and eating disorders, according to CBS News. In 2021, The Wall Street Journal conducted its own investigation into the app.

How does TikTok affect students mental health? ›

And one study from a non-profit group claimed TikTok may surface potentially harmful content related to suicide and eating disorders to teenagers within minutes of them creating an account. TikTok is far from the only social platform to be scrutinized by lawmakers and mental health experts for its impact on teens.


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