Opinion: Gov. Abbott should withdraw plan banning TikTok


Via Canva Graphics

The proposed TikTok ban would mainly affect higher education facilities.

Alex Whelchel, Staff Writer

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced a plan to ban the use of TikTok on state-issued devices, hoping to protect the cyber security of citizens. This also prevents employees and contractors from using their personal devices for state business if TikTok is downloaded. In the wake of this plan, many universities in Texas have begun banning the app on their WiFi networks.

The government has no right to limit what state employees and students view.

Abbott implemented this plan due to TikTok being owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. He fears that the information gathered through the app could be used to hack sensitive information about the U.S. government. As of now, there is no evidence that TikTok is being used to gather information on the government. Instagram and Twitter, other popular social media apps, have very similar privacy policies to TikTok. All three state that they may collect data from third-party sources in order to make the app more catered to users. If Abbott will ban TikTok because of their ability to get information without the user’s permission, why is it okay for other social media apps to do it? 

This plan has been put into effect in order to protect Texans from surveillance by the Chinese government. However, it is not the government’s job to restrict what citizens see. Being a democratic republic, U.S. citizens have the right to view whatever they please. In 1996, congress passed section 230 which protects social media companies from becoming liable for what a user posts. Section 230 reinforces the idea that everyone is responsible for their own actions and the government should not be in a position to limit these liberties.

One of the main concerns regarding the app is how it opens up access to all of the information on the device. In the terms of use that users must accept before the app can be used, TikTok states that they may collect information about every user, whether it be information that the user provides or from other sources. Although this sounds insane, if a user does not like these terms they do not have to download the app.

Although it makes sense to ban the app on devices paid for by the state, not allowing employees to conduct work on their personal devices due to the presence of the app is not okay. What employees do on their devices, on their own time is not the government’s business.

Abbott should retract the plan to ban TikTok to retain personal liberty for state employees.