New Tennessee law makes TikTok harder to access for university students

Students and parents speak out about university TikTok restrictions.
WSMV4's Sharon Danquah reports.
Published: Apr. 15, 2023 at 11:47 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -A new law is now banning TikTok from all state-funded university campuses.

Students and parents had mixed reactions to the ban. Some said they were shocked and disappointed that TikTok will be harder to access, while others said this could soon benefit hundreds of students.

“You learn stuff on here that you don’t even learn in school,” said TSU student Amiah Jones-Marshall.

Jones-Marshall said TikTok is a resource thousands use daily.

“I’ve learned editing skills, ways to market, a lot of things. TikTok is a great tool outside of its entertainment,” Jones-Marshall said.

While other states, like Montana, are looking to ban the app entirely, on Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that would ban all apps that are associated with the People’s Republic of China on public college campuses.

“I’ve heard it becoming a big controversial issue throughout states and hearing of entire states banning it,” Bobbi Casey at TSU said.

The law more specifically stops state universities from allowing students and staff members to use the campus Wi-Fi for any video platforms that are headquartered outside of the U.S.

“Sometimes to gain control of communication and social media influence, this university has to take steps to make sure that they are securing the students first,” TSU Parent Patricia Hicks said.

Lawmakers said there are serious privacy concerns with TikTok, which is headquartered in Beijing. Right now, the platform is under an FBI investigation after being accused of stealing user data to spy on American journalists.

“I think that we have to embrace new change because the people who are putting those changes into place have done their research and know why they are putting these changes into place for the best interest of our school security of growth and education of this campus,” Hicks said.

While some parents like Patricia Hicks support the change, others believe it’s a disservice to learning that many will now have constantly work their way around.

“I feel like banning TikTok on campus is crazy,” Jones-Marshall said.

Students and staff will still be able to access TikTok on campus, but if they want to use the app, they will have to use their personal cell phone plans or personal Wi-Fi services to do it.