There are plenty of measures universities can take to ensure safety for their students, but the one they’re focusing on in 2023 appears to be TikTok.
A host of schools in the U.S. have announced that TikTok is banned from government-issued devices and, more recently, schools are also restricting access to the platform on their WiFi and internet networks — a devastating move for college students who use TikTok for content creation.
This comes as more than 30 states issued varying TikTok bans, and Congress banned TikTok from most government-issued devices — all due to the fear that TikTok’s parent company, Chinese-owned ByteDance, harvests data from users’ devices and offers that to the Chinese government. In previous instances, a governor writes an order requiring that TikTok is blocked on government devices in that state — like Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Dec. 7 directive(Opens in a new window) — that includes state universities. But some universities have chosen to only ban the app on government-owned devices, while others are requiring a ban on TikTok while using university WiFi. Most of the bans don’t go so far as requiring students to delete the app from their devices(Opens in a new window).
“We believe the concerns driving these decisions are largely fueled by misinformation about our company,” TikTok told ABC News in a statement(Opens in a new window) in response to a ban from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “We are happy to continue having constructive meetings with state policymakers to discuss our privacy and security practices. We are disappointed that many state agencies, offices, and universities will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and connect with constituents.”
Here are all the universities who have announced a ban on TikTok:
Morgan State University
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan released an emergency cybersecurity directive banning TikTok(Opens in a new window) from government devices due to the “threat to our personal safety and our national security” that is posed by “the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives.” In response, Maryland’s Morgan State University banned TikTok from Morgan-owned devices and Wifi networks, The MSU Spokesman reported(Opens in a new window).
“Protecting our infrastructure and the campus community against potential digital breaches and vulnerabilities is paramount,” Dell Jackson, director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, told The Spokesman. “Morgan is not alone in this effort, as all state agencies and the more than 50 Maryland public colleges and universities are enforcing the cybersecurity safeguard.”
University of Texas at Austin
Jeff Neyland, the advisor to the president for technology strategy at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote in a Jan. 17 blog post(Opens in a new window) that UT Austin blocked TikTok access on its networks. This comes in response to Abbott’s directive requiring all state agencies eliminate the use of TikTok on government networks and government-issued devices.
“Recently, UT Austin began the process of removing TikTok from all government-issued devices, including university-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers,” Neyland wrote. “Today, the university blocked TikTok access on our networks. You are no longer able to access TikTok on any device if you are connected to the university via its wired or WIFI networks.”
The University of Texas at Dallas
In a press release by Frank Feagans, the vice president for information technology and chief information officer at UT Dallas, and Nate Howe, the chief information security officer at UT Dallas, the UT Dallas officials blamed Abbott’s Texas order on its TikTok ban.
“To comply with this order, UT Dallas began removing TikTok software from all University-owned computing devices on Dec. 21,” the press release said(Opens in a new window). “At 5 p.m. today, UT Dallas will take the additional step of blocking access to TikTok on all devices that are connected to our wired and WiFi networks.”
Texas A&M is also taking steps to restrict access to TikTok on campus. The school told ABC News(Opens in a new window) that the university blocked access to TikTok for all state-owned devices and is working to block it from their Wi-Fi network.
“[W]e are in the process of putting in place network based filtering that will block both wireless and wired access to downloading or accessing the app from our campus network, which means students, faculty, staff and visitors will not be able to use the app when connected to an A&M network,” Laylan Copelin, system spokesperson, told the Texas Tribune(Opens in a new window).
Texas is not playing around. Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas is also implementing a ban on TikTok on all University-issued devices.
“All university employees are prohibited from downloading or using TikTok on any university device or other information resource,” the University said in a statement(Opens in a new window). “Similarly, the installation or use of TikTok on any university owned device or other information resource is prohibited by any user. Exceptions to this prohibition may only be granted by the university’s president.”
West Texas A&M University
In response to Abbott’s TikTok ban, West Texas A&M University banned TikTok on all University-owned devices, but it doesn’t currently affect anyone’s personal devices, the university wrote in a press release(Opens in a new window).
University of Houston System
The entire University of Houston System is also banning TikTok on government-owned devices.
“The University of Houston immediately ceased activity on all of its University-managed TikTok accounts following the Governor’s order last month,” The University of Houston said in a letter to everyone in its system, according to local news outlet ABC13(Opens in a new window). “The UHS Information Security team has scanned more than 20,000 University-owned devices across the UH System, and the app was removed from six devices. The University has not made any changes to the university’s WiFi or internet systems as it relates to the order.
Texas Tech University System
Joining most of the other universities in Texas, the Texas Tech University System is also banning the use of TikTok on their devices(Opens in a new window). University employees in the system aren’t allowed to use TikTok on school-issued devices. They’re also asking official university TikTok accounts to be deactivated but “to not delete or relinquish the account handle/name(Opens in a new window)” so that other people don’t use the name.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive order banning TikTok from state-issued devices on Dec. 8, citing privacy concerns over the app. In response, Langston University in Oklahoma announced that not only will TikTok be banned from school-issued devices but it’ll also be blocked on wired and wireless networks, local news station KOCO reported(Opens in a new window).
The University of Oklahoma
Also in response to Stitt’s executive order, the University of Oklahoma has banned TikTok. Local news station KFOR(Opens in a new window) reported that all employees and student won’t be able to access TikTok on any University-owned or operated devices — including the University’s wired and wireless networks.
The University of Central Oklahoma
You can’t access TikTok on any University of Central Oklahoma-owned device or on the school’s wifi networks, local news outlet KFOR reported(Opens in a new window). This is, of course, in response to Stitt’s executive order.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Northwestern Oklahoma State University joins other Oklahoma schools in banning TikTok on school-owned devices and wifi networks, too, according to Northwestern News(Opens in a new window).
Northeastern State University
Stitt’s executive order stretched to Northeastern State University, too. All employees, departments, and student organizations were asked to delete TikTok from University-owned devices(Opens in a new window) — and to delete the schools’ TikTok accounts.
Oklahoma State University
In response to Stitt’s executive order, Oklahoma State University is blocking access(Opens in a new window) to TikTok on university-owned devices and on its wired and wireless networks.
South Dakota University System
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced in an executive order that the use of TikTok is prohibited on state-owned devices. In response, the South Dakota Board of Regents — the board in charge of the six universities in the state — said that all universities will obey the TikTok ban on state devices, and that state universities will be required to delete the TikTok accounts they have. In an email statement to NBC News(Opens in a new window), a spokesperson for the South Dakota Board of Regents said that the “prohibition does not impact students and student organizations on campus.”
Alabama banned the use of TikTok on state networks and devices(Opens in a new window), so, of course, Auburn University in Alabama had to ban the app from its on-campus WiFi networks, too.
All 26 universities and colleges within the University System of Georgia
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned the use of TikTok on government-issued phones(Opens in a new window) in December 2022. In response, the entire University System of Georgia banned the use of TikTok on any state-owned devices. It’s not immediately clear if students can use the app through the University System of Georgia’s WiFi.
Arkansas Tech University
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order to ban TikTok(Opens in a new window) on state-issued devices and networks, and now-Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders continued the order after she was elected.
The university relations director for Arkansas Tech University told local news station THV11(Opens in a new window) that you can’t use TikTok on university-owned devices or on the school WiFi. Official University TikTok accounts are also no longer being used.
Arkansas State University
In response to the governor’s ban, Arkansas State University is also banning TikTok from university-owned devices and on the school WiFi.
“It’s leaning from everybody pushing away from the WiFi, like nobody is even getting on the WiFi,” Jackson Roddy, a freshman at ASU, told local news station ABC7(Opens in a new window). “Some people are even switching their phone plans to like unlimited.”
University of Florida (kind of)
Florida doesn’t have a state-wide ban on the app, but Florida’s Department of Financial Services did ban employees from using TikTok on department-issued devices. The University of Florida is discouraging students and faculty from using TikTok, according to an email UF’s vice president and chief information officer sent students(Opens in a new window). There isn’t a strict ban, yet.
Boise State University
In response to Idaho Governor Brad Little’s ban on TikTok(Opens in a new window) from state-issued devices and networks, Boise State University banned the use of the app from university-owned devices.
“The Office of Information Technology will also block access to TikTok from all university networks,” a press release from the school read. “Students who want to access TikTok on their personal devices may do so using their cellular data plan.”
Idaho State University
After Little’s TikTok ban, Idaho State University is also banning TikTok(Opens in a new window) on all university-owned devices and WiFi networks.
University of Idaho
Little’s ban went on to affect the University of Idaho(Opens in a new window), which also banned TikTok on university-owned devices and WiFi networks.
All Iowa Public Universities
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds banned TikTok on state-owned devices and banned state agencies from owning a TikTok account. In response, the Iowa Board of Regents(Opens in a new window) — which controls all state universities in Iowa — directed all Iowa public universities to remove TikTok from school-owned devices, and prohibited official university TikTok accounts.
All 16 schools in the Montana University System
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte TikTok on state-owned devices and, in response, all schools in the Montana University system must remove TikTok from university-owned devices. Users also can’t access the site on the school’s WiFi, according to the Montana Free Press(Opens in a new window).
This is an ongoing story. More information will be shared as it becomes available.