Texas college students say 'censorship of TikTok over guns' says a lot about how officials prioritize safety
- UT Austin and Texas A&M announced a ban on TikTok from school WiFi and devices this week.
- Since the ban, students are sharing their frustration with Texas officials.
Texas university students say their schools have more important issues to worry about than students using TikTok on campus.
On Tuesday, University of Texas and Texas A&M University were among Texas colleges that announced a ban on the video-sharing app TikTok on school devices and campus, part of an effort led by Governor Greg Abbott. The move left some questioning the schools' priorities, according to students who spoke to Insider.
"The censorship of TikTok over guns let's you know how serious the government is about the safety of the younger generation," a 22-year-old public health student at the University of Texas told Insider, speaking on the basis of anonymity to protect his privacy.
He continued: "Let someone purchase a gun for 'recreational use' and not one eyebrow is raised, but let someone upload a video on TikTok and all hell breaks loose."
The restrictions on TikTok came after a directive by Governor Greg Abbott to ban on any government-issued devices. In the December press release, Abbott cited data harvesting and potential surveillance of its users as the reason, but students told Insider they aren't convinced there's a big threat.
"TikTok is just as 'safe' as any other social media platform," a 20-year-old nuclear engineering student at Texas A&M told Insider, also speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Despite being owned by a company in China, other apps owned by US companies can easily acquire any information that the Chinese company has access to."
Instead of taking TikTok away, the student said state officials should work on increasing access to mental health care on college campuses if they want to keep students safe — noting that the Abbott administration cut $200 million from state mental health services in 2021, but blamed a lack of such programs for the Uvalde High School shooting.
"A&M is a big school, and it's easy to get overwhelmed," the student told Insider. "For those who don't have a support system and suffer from mental illness, I can easily see how someone could choose to take it out on others, and it wouldn't be that difficult with the lack of gun regulation here."
As the ban begins go into effect on college campuses, students are taking to social media to express their frustrations with Texas universities. However, most have chosen to circumvent the ban using their own data and virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access TikTok, Insider's Kieran Press-Reynolds reported.
"It sounds so silly but in today's day and age social media is a really big part of how the younger generation connects and it makes me sad that some will miss out on that," Etta Carpender, a senior at UT Austin, told Insider earlier this week.
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