Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Hilltop


University-issued TikTok ban not much of a concern, students say

The university has banned TikTok from certain university networks and devices citing participation in federally-funded research as the reason. Students primarily view it as a non-issue due to their ability to still access the popular app.

A person opens the TikTok app. Photo Courtesy of Plannthat

The Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) will ban TikTok and other ByteDance-owned apps from Howard-owned devices and the HU-Wifi network.

The ban will be enforced at Howard to ensure the university’s compliance with the U.S. government’s December 2022 ban on the social media app from federal devices and “devices used to execute work under federal contracts and commissioned by partners of federal agencies,” the Aug. 30 announcement via email to the Howard community said.  

Howard is a recipient of federally funded research grants and data-sharing agreements, qualifying its compliance with the ban, according to the university’s email. The ban at Howard went under effect Sept. 1 at 6 p.m.

More than 30 states have followed suit since the initial bill was passed, according to December 2022 data from research publication Government Technology. Washington, D.C., has yet to put the ban in place, the website says. 

According to the email sent by ETS, TikTok will only be blocked from devices connected to the HU Wi-Fi network. The ban will not affect residence halls or users connected to the HU-Guests network.

However, devices affected by this ban include computers in the Undergraduate Library (UGL), iLab, or any other computer lab on campus, as well as computers in residence hall labs.

Jarrett Carter, the director of operations, strategy & communications for the Office of the Chief Operating Officer wrote in the email, “This ban is related to domestic concerns over the use of surveillance elements within the app that may harvest user data for holding by foreign-owned company, which does not have to follow U.S. laws on protecting or commercializing user data.” 

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“Personal data protection is an extension of the University’s top priority of safety for all students, employees, and guests of our campus community,” Carter said.

Some Howard students were not perturbed by the announcement, primarily because they would still be able to have access to TikTok.

Christina Brown, a sophomore architecture major from Philadelphia and micro-influencer, believes the ban could potentially affect some students, but not her.

“I use TikTok basically every day. On average, I spend three hours a day on TikTok,” she said. “But for me, I don’t think it will be much of a hindrance because I don’t really connect to it [HU Wi-Fi] unless my phone is moving slow, which in that case it would affect me.”

Lemaria Stevens, a junior media, journalism, and film major from Grand Rapids, Michigan, doesn’t feel the ban will affect her either.

“I don’t use TikTok that often. It’s usually every other day or before bed that I watch TikTok. I don’t believe it’ll be a hindrance to me because I don’t use Howard’s Wi-Fi,” Stevens said.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Chioma Okolo, a junior biology major from Chicago, however, feels the ban is unnecessary.

“I stay off campus and when I’m on campus, HU Wi-Fi is usually very congested because everyone and everyone is on campus for classes. If I want to watch TikTok, I can just go on my data,” she said. “So I just feel like the decision didn’t affect me. I just feel as though maybe it’s not that necessary.”

While Stevens agrees with the government’s ban, she also does not feel it is necessary to ban the app at Howard.

“I agree with the government ban because I do not believe that play should be on work devices,” Stevens said. “The problem really isn’t about TikTok, it’s about an institution taking away students’ rights. Why are you banning an app that is used for fun?”

Brown also questioned the need for the ban. “I understand why places are banning TikTok but I feel that there are plenty of other apps on our phones that probably share information too. So if that’s the case, why only ban TikTok? It just doesn’t make sense to me personally,” Brown said. 

Morgan State University also put a similar ban in place back in January, joining more than 40 colleges and universities that have blocked TikTok from certain Wi-Fi networks.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

According to digital marketing agency Omnicor, TikTok had 1.8 billion monthly active users as of February 2023, and the United States had the highest number of monthly active users, 122 million in July, according to Statista.

Omnicor says that the average TikTok user spends an average of 90 minutes on the app per day, and opens the app an average of 19 times per day. The agency also says the biggest TikTok user age group in 2022 were 18- and 19-year-olds at 67 percent.

Copy edited by Alana Matthew


You May Also Like