Opinion: why university exemptions are needed to ban TikTok

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp recently banned government employees from using the TikTok social media app on government devices. Kemp has joined Greg Abbott and several other governors in issuing similar mandates, a move in line with concerns expressed by some political leaders. As an educator at the University of Texas, we recently received an email from the University Compliance Service instructing us to “immediately remove” the application. Gov. Abbott says the ban is intended to protect government information from the Chinese government, which is a pressing concern since TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance.

Efforts to ban TikTok from government devices stand in stark contrast to the app’s popularity among young Americans. According to Pew Research, two-thirds of teens aged 13 to 17 have used the platform. Just over a quarter of 18-29 year olds report that they regularly get news from the platform, and many young people have used it as a search engine. While the platform is well known for dance videos and funny pet content, the misinformation and lack of enforcement is a concern.

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