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University of Wisconsin joins colleges banning TikTok

The university tells its 40,000 employees, including its sports teams staff, to stop using the social media platform

University of Wisconsin officials said they would restrict the use of TikTok on school system devices. (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)
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University of Wisconsin System officials said Tuesday that they will ban the use of TikTok on system devices.

Nearly half of states nationwide have blocked the popular social media app owned by a Chinese company. Earlier this month, Democratic Governor Tony Evers banned the use of TikTok on Wisconsin state phones and other devices, citing potential risks to privacy, safety and security.

The order did not apply to the University of Wisconsin System, which employs 40,000 faculty and staff, because it is not an executive branch agency. University of Wisconsin at Madison, the flagship school in the system, has multiple TikTok accounts, including one for the women’s volleyball team. Universities often use TikTok accounts as a recruiting tool to connect with high school students.

A number of other universities across the country have banned TikTok in recent weeks, including Auburn, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and Iowa. Several of the colleges also ban students from accessing the platform from campus WiFi.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by critics who say the Chinese government could access user data, such as browsing history and location. United States armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.

TikTok is used by two-thirds of American teens and has become the second-most popular website in the world. But there has long been concern among lawmakers in Washington that the Chinese government would use its power to seize American user data or try to push misinformation or stories in favor of China.