TikTok banned on Tennessee public university Wi-Fi networks

TikTok is blocked on all public university wi-fi networks in Tennessee.
TikTok is blocked on all public university wi-fi networks in Tennessee.
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 7:21 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Social media platform, TikTok, is now blocked on all public university wi-fi networks in Tennessee.

Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law Friday, citing security concerns regarding the Chinese-based company. Other apps hosted by Chinese-based companies like WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Xiao HongShu, Douban, Zhihu, Meituan and Toutiao are also banned.

University of Tennessee senior, Max Thompson, has 280.1k followers on TikTok. His account has garnered more than 52 million likes across all content. “I basically either interview students, or I just try to create videos about my life that I think are worth sharing to other people,” said Thompson.

He, along with other students, are frustrated with the ban. “It’s a little frustrating to see it happen, as somebody that really has devoted a lot of time and energy to the app,” said Thompson.

Bill Dean, a partner with LBMC Information Security, said the state’s security for TikTok users is valid. “Just the data that it has on us, think about usernames, and passwords, and text messages, and pictures. Depending on the person that they have that information on it can be extremely valuable,” Dean said.

The data TikTok is gathering from users likely is not much different from what other social media platforms collect. However, other social media companies are based in the United States.

“Google, and Facebook, and social media networks are gathering information to sell us products. We’ve accepted that. Where I think we’re getting a little uncomfortable is when foreign governments can have that information to maybe do things that are more nefarious than that,” said Dean.

In the meantime, Thompson plans to continue making TikTok content on campus, and hopes other social media apps will be investigated, too. “If TikTok is going to be a point of emphasis, I hope they can pass some sort of legislation to protect our data on all companies,” he said.