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Students reflect on a possible TikTok ban - Will the Chinese spy balloon be the downfall of the app?

TikTok, the popular social networking app among Generation Z, was prohibited by Congress on federal government devices last December. Since then, 20 public universities such as the University of Texas, Morgan State University in Maryland, and The University System of Georgia have banned TikTok from campus Wi-Fi networks and school devices. 

The app has gained popularity as a source of news, entertainment and life hacks. It has also enabled users to become influencers, communicate and become a part of a community. 

Security experts are concerned about the threat of the app being on several smartphones and presumably collecting data on Americans. A ban may now extend beyond the state's borders. A bipartisan bill to prohibit TikTok on a federal level was submitted by lawmakers in December 2022 in the U.S. House and Senate. 

Madison Cook, a freshman political science major, said the app “is a huge part of everyone’s lives, and it is a source of income for a lot of people." 

Jacob Mendelsohn, a junior mathematics major, said he does not use TikTok. However, he said that a possible nationwide ban of the app is “going to suck for a lot of people; it’s going to be really bad." 

According to Mendelsohn, the TikTok ban will not only affect individuals but also businesses that use the app for marketing and publicity. 

"This isn’t just harming the individual, but it’s also harming those multinational companies that use that site," he said. 

The Chinese spy balloon that appeared over the northern U.S. on Jan. 28 has recently been another threat to national security that the US government has been keeping tabs on, bringing new urgency to the TikTok question. 

According to NBC, Congress may use the new balloon sighting to draw attention to security issues with both the app and the balloon. Although the spy balloon that flew over the nation had nothing to do with TikTok, members of congress have used the balloon as a “rallying point” to push a nationwide ban of the app.

"Honestly, I think they're just trying to find any excuse to ban TikTok,” Cook said. “I think people are just trying to avoid the actual problems by distracting themselves with the little ones.” 

Some students believe that the recent spotting of the balloon will only make the TikTok ban nationwide and possibly make the relationship between the U.S. and China worse. 

"This just creates more problems between us and China." said Kailynn Mclver, a junior interactive media major.

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There are more than 1 billion active monthly users on the social media app, with a large number of people utilizing TikTok as a tool for information, humor and community development.  

“That doesn’t mean there are no flaws,” Cook said. “There are flaws, and TikTok is how we talk about [them].”

 Esmeralda Arias can be reached at

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.


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