FAMU & Langston University First HBCUs To Ban TikTok On Campus Devices & Wi-Fi Following Federal & State Concerns Over Privacy

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Florida A&M University & Langston University are the first HBCUs to ban TikTok on school issued devices and wifi. The ban comes after widespread concerns of privacy and data usage by the short-video sharing app. FAMU blocked the app on March 7th with Vice President of Information Technology Robert Seniors saying, “The application is deemed a threat to national security and privacy use.” The banning of the app caused outrage from students, who can now only use the app via their individual data plans.

“Banning TikTok in middle and high schools is understandable as it can deter the younger minds in the classrooms, especially in the age of technology. But, when it comes to college campuses, this does nothing but restricts the technological freedom of college students,” says Kelis Scott, staff writer for The FAMUAN, in her op-ed, “Is FAMU doing too much as it bans TikTok on campus?”

She adds, “Student leaders and organizations use social media apps like TikTok to communicate and share information with their peers. Now that the school internet does not allow that, it will make it more difficult to do so. This also doesn’t help those with limited data plans on their cellular devices. Since they’ll have to turn off the WiFi in order to access the app, this will cause them to consume more data than usual.”

Langston University, in accordance with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s December 8th Executive Order, also banned the app on school-issued devices & campus wifi. Fox 23 News reports that university officials attribute the ban to complying with state orders as a public, state funded institution. Tennessee State is expected to be the next HBCU to ban TikTok on campus, as a bill to ban TikTok passed the state legislature last week and will be signed into law by Governor Bill Lee.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress March 23rd in an attempt to answer questions about the app and defend the company against fears of improper use with user data on behalf of the China Government. He spoke about $1.5 billion that TikTok spent on confronting data security concerns, calling the company initiative “Project Texas”. However, many viewers of the hearing agreed that it didn’t go well and there’s a universal sentiment that Congress is close to a full TikTok ban.

The Biden Administration is pushing Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell the app to a U.S. based company to avert a ban of the app. There were also signs in the hearing that TikTok could be saved from a ban as lawmakers could draft legislation to address data concern fears.

Also of note: many colleges in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi & Texas have banned TikTok but as of this writing neither of the HBCUs in these states have banned the app. We will continue to keep you updated on this issue as well as other HBCUs that ban TikTok on their campuses.

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