Texas College Students Accuse ‘TikTok Censorship Instead of Guns’

  • UT Austin and Texas A&M announced TikTok bans on school WiFi and devices this week.
  • Since the ban, students have been sharing their frustration with Texas officials.
  • Students told Insider that there are more pressing security issues that university officials should consider.

Students at a Texas university say their schools have more important issues to worry about than students using TikTok on campus.

On Tuesday, the University of Texas and Texas A&M University were among Texas colleges that announced bans on the video-sharing app TikTok on school devices and on campus, as part of an effort led by Gov. Greg Abbott. According to students who spoke to Insider, the move called the schools’ priorities into question.

“TikTok’s gun censorship shows you how serious the government is about the safety of younger generations,” the 22-year-old public health student at the University of Texas told Insider, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his privacy.

He continued: “Someone buys a gun for ‘recreational use’ and no eyebrows are raised, but someone puts a video on TikTok and all hell breaks loose.”

Concealed handgun carry is allowed on the UT Austin and Texas A&M campuses for those with a legal gun permit, according to handbooks at both schools.

The restrictions on TikTok followed Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to ban all government-issued devices. In a December press release, Abbott cited data collection and potential surveillance of its users as reasons, but students told Insider they weren’t convinced there was a major threat.

“TikTok is just as ‘safe’ as any other social media platform,” the 20-year-old nuclear engineering student at Texas A&M told Insider, also speaking on condition of anonymity. “Despite being owned by a company in China, other apps owned by US companies can easily get all the information that the Chinese company has access to.”

Instead of shutting down TikTok, the student said state officials should work to increase access to mental health care on college campuses if they want to protect students — noting that the Abbott administration cut $200 million from state mental health services in 2021, but blamed the lack of such programs for the Uvalde High School shooting.

“A&M is a big school and it’s easy to get overwhelmed,” a student told Insider. “For those who don’t have a support system and suffer from mental illness, I can easily see how someone could take themselves out on others, and it wouldn’t be as difficult with the lack of gun regulations here.”

As the ban takes effect on college campuses, students are venting their frustrations with Texas universities on social media. However, most chose to circumvent the ban by using their own data and virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access TikTok, Insider’s Kieran Press-Reynolds reported.

“It sounds so silly, but nowadays social media is a really big part of how the younger generation connects, and it makes me sad that some are going to miss out,” Etta Carpender, a senior at UT Austin, told Insider earlier this week.

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