Short-form video sharing platform, TikTok, has faced its fair share of controversy in recent years. From security concerns to malicious scammers, the app has caught the attention of elected officials all around the world, causing some to completely ban the app on government-issued devices.
Ohio and New Jersey have joined the ranks in issuing these types of restrictions, with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signing an executive order making it so. Just a day later, New Jersey introduced the ban.
NJ Governor Phil Murphy provided a statement, saying, “This decisive action will ensure the cybersecurity of the State is unified against actors who may seek to divide us.”
TikTok rapidly gained popularity in 2018 when it merged with a similar app by the name of Musical.ly. The app had reported an astounding 1 billion users by 2021. Adding to the impressive numbers, 67% of U.S. teens have reportedly downloaded the app. It’s understandable that an app with such a massive userbase would garner so much attention.
Shortly after it’s 2018 launch, U.S. Senators called for an investigation into the Chinese-owned app, citing security risks. Former President Trump even tried to ban the app across the entire U.S., but was shot down by the courts.
TikTok responded that it was “disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok. We are continuing to work with the federal government to finalize a solution that will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at the federal and state level.”
New Jersey’s ban spreads across all companies owned by Chinese-based ByteDance, including shopping app Alibaba and software company Kasperksky which is based in Moscow, Russia.
TikTok has continually shared plans to secure the app, but has since delayed the process in hiring a security team to lock things down. Critics worry that the Chinese government may use the application to share misinformation or control social media influence. Similar bans have been placed in effect in Maryland, Georgia, and Texas.
The Ohio Department of Transportation launched its TikTok account in 2020 and amassed a large following of tens of thousands of users. That account was deleted Monday morning. It’s yet to be seen if TikTok will make an effort to tighten up the security reigns in efforts to get in good standing with government officials or if they’ll focus their efforts elsewhere.