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College campuses ban TikTok after Congressional hearing for privacy and security concerns

By: Iciss Wilkerson

CHATTANOOGA, TN ( Although TikTok is one of the most used social media platforms, many college campuses are still in the process of banning the app due to privacy concerns.

The rebranded social media platform grew in popularity during the pandemic in 2020. TikTok surpassed over two billion mobile downloads worldwide during that year and has become a source of entertainment for many. 

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The app is most known for its short-form videos created for and consumed by users. It’s full of entertainment, comedy, how-to’s, news, life hacks, and more. Over many years, TikTok is now considered the most popular app in the world. 

Due to its popularity, there have been many concerns occurring for a while on whether or not the app is safe to use. The platform does have its use for entertainment but there is also a deeper side to it all. Its quick-short videos can create emotional nudges for users as well as stir up privacy concerns. 

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In 2020, the Trump Administration first threatened to ban TikTok due to security concerns but the company has denied accusations that it has close ties to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and that U.S. citizens’ data is at risk. 

In March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Shou began answering questions regarding the concerns regarding the platform.

Shou said, “TikTok has never shared, or received a request to share, U.S. user data with the Chinese government. Nor would TikTok honor such a request if one were ever made.” 

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew defended TikTok’s privacy practices before Congress. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After the hearing, many users on TikTok across the nation began to express their love for the platform and the CEO. Shou thanked users for their support the next day and waited for a response from the hearing.

Today, the U.S. is still uncertain about a national ban to take place for TikTok.

According to an analysis written by The Guardian, “The federal government has already barred TikTok on government devices, and the Biden administration has threatened a national ban. But the idea of a national ban still faces big hurdles, both legally and in the court of public opinion.”

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A national ban for TikTok still faces some problems due to its popularity worldwide as well as free speech concerns. Today, many government-regulated facilities have restricted the app due to privacy concerns. Most universities have banned the app because of the controversy it has stirred up over the past year.  

Chloe Atkinson is a senior at UTC and explains what she thinks about the ban taking place on college campuses.

“I don’t really think the ban will really do much,” says Atkinson. “All you have to do to use it is disconnect from the Wifi. It might protect the school’s data and information, but I really don’t know.”

Some students don’t use the platform often during school semesters since it can have a negative impact on mental health but it’s still easy for anyone to get on the app as long as they’re not connected to the school’s WiFi.

Though it’s an addicting app for others, the app’s motive is to allow users to make short videos, roughly 15–30 seconds in length, and distribute them within the app’s following. 

“The algorithm takes into account everything about your watch history, and has content seemingly tailor-made for your tastes,” said UTC senior Sam Bigham. “That dopamine cycle is inherently addictive.”

Photo from CNN. Licensed under Creative Commons.

While students have no effect from the app being banned, others find it helpful since it allows them to stay off the app for a while. 

The app continues to grow its popularity worldwide every day. The short videos allow users to get a quick glimpse of anything they want to see according to the algorithm.

Today, TikTok continues to raise more concerns about the app’s privacy rights as well as its impact on mental health among college students.

About Iciss Wilkerson

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