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The TikTok app's logo pictured in Tokyo on September 28, 2020. Photo: AP

TikTok banned from University of Texas campus on cybersecurity concerns raised by governor and US government

  • The University of Texas at Austin has banned the use of the viral short video app owned by China’s ByteDance on the school network
  • At least 25 states have barred the use of TikTok on government devices in the US, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott issuing his own order on the app last month
The University of Texas at Austin has banned the use of TikTok on the campus’ networks after state and national leaders expressed concerns about the social media app’s ties to China and the large amount of user data it collects.

The school said on Tuesday that it is permanently blocking TikTok’s access on its systems, prohibiting devices to use the app on the university's wired or Wi-fi networks.

The announcement follows a directive last month from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who ordered all state agencies to bar its officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices. At least 25 other states have taken similar actions, citing national security concerns around the usage of TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance.

TikTok influences a billion users, but who influences TikTok?

Extremely popular among college students, teens and young adults, TikTok is facing heavy scrutiny from federal and local officials. They’re concerned about the company’s ownership and whether the government in Beijing can access American users’ data. Officials including US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and FBI Director Chris Wray have raised questions on whether the company could be a national security threat.

Last month, Oklahoma University announced it would prohibit internet access to TikTok after Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive order prohibiting access to the video-sharing app on government networks and devices. Auburn University in Alabama blocked TikTok following a similar directive from its governor. And Boise State University, following an order from Governor Brad Little, also prohibited access to TikTok on its networks, saying students who want to access the app may do so using their own cellular data plan.