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Auburn University has blocked TikTok on campus Wi-Fi. Journalism professors say they are looking for workarounds so they can continue teaching multimedia skills.

Auburn University has blocked TikTok on campus WiFi, but not all students are heeding the restrictions.Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • Auburn University blocked TikTok on campus Wi-Fi at the direction of the Alabama governor.

  • Journalism professors have been told to find workarounds so they can continue teaching multimedia skills.

  • A professor told Insider it would do students a “wrong” if they removed TikTok from the curriculum.

Auburn University, Alabama, is among dozens of US colleges that have restricted access to TikTok on campus – and some journalism professors are warning it could have unexpected consequences for students’ education.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced a nationwide ban on the app for all agencies and networks in mid-December. “TikTok collects massive amounts of data from its users,” Ivey said. “The use of TikTok involving the state IT infrastructure thus creates an unacceptable vulnerability to Chinese infiltration operations.”

More than half of all U.S. states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices, leading a number of public colleges to ban TikTok from their Wi-Fi and university-owned devices.

Two phone screens side by side show what TikTok Now will look like, with an avocado character on the left screen and the right screen with a dog and a woman

One Auburn student told Insider he’s already deleted the TikTok app because it distracts him from work.tick tock

“To protect valuable information and reduce potential cybersecurity threats associated with TikTok use, the Auburn Network has been updated to restrict TikTok use,” the college said in an email to students Jan. 9 .

It said students and staff would not be able to use the app while connected to the university’s wired and wireless services. The university referred insiders to the statement when asked for comment.

Auburn University’s official TikTok account has not been deleted, although it has not been posted since December 7th. Other university-related accounts — including those for Auburn Football, Auburn Tigers and Auburn Basketball — have not been posted since December, although the college’s dining account has continued posting. In contrast, some colleges in Texas have instructed their staff to set all university-affiliated TikTok accounts to private and remove all institutional brands.

“TikTok has never shared US data with the Chinese government, nor would we if asked,” a TikTok spokesperson told Insider. They said the company was “disappointed” so many states had issued policies “that do nothing to improve cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok.”

According to Hypeauditor data shared with Insiders, around 38% of TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 24. Auburn students say the restrictions could affect their downtime, but professors worry it could impact education as well.

It would do students “an injustice” to remove TikTok from the curriculum

Gheni Platenburg, an assistant professor of journalism at Auburn’s School of Communication and Journalism, told Insider she has “mixed feelings” about the restrictions.

The students in their multimedia journalism class have an assignment that involves creating TikTok news videos. Learning about the new policy so close to the start of the spring semester is “a bit disconcerting,” she said.

“Did I have to switch? Did I have to create a new task?” she wondered at the time. At an internal faculty meeting earlier in the semester, “we were advised to carry on pretty much as usual, but only to find workarounds where possible,” Platenburg said. She said she plans to keep the TikTok assignment in her class and show students sample videos on her personal laptop, using her phone as a hotspot.

“I think it would do students an injustice to just remove it from the curriculum altogether,” she said. “TikTok plays a huge role in storytelling these days.”

Brian Delaney, also an assistant professor of journalism at Auburn, said Twitter that the restrictions are “extremely short-sighted”. He said that the app is full of misinformation and that students need to study the app to develop their media literacy.

“We need to be on the app, exploring its infrastructure, discussing its role in communications and journalism, identifying characteristics of misinformation and effective messaging,” he wrote on Twitter.

An email to staff at the School of Communication and Journalism, seen by Insider, said students could upload TikTok links to Canvas — a virtual learning environment used by colleges — and staff could view them at their university and grade computers, but none of this could be done with the campus wifi. “You must grade off-campus OR if you wish to grade on-campus, you can hotspot your computer to your phone,” the email said.

When asked by Insider, Auburn University said it “continues to assess the security risks associated with TikTok.”

Christopher Mendoza, a journalism senior at Auburn, said he feared the restrictions could affect his education. However, two other senior journalism seniors told Insiders that they didn’t use TikTok as part of their class.

Students can bypass the restrictions by not connecting to campus WiFi. Students, however, told insiders that some buildings on campus lack cellular data, including some student housing, and raised concerns students who don’t have unlimited data could miss out.

Alex Husting, a senior journalist and athletic director at Auburn’s student radio station, told Insider that the restrictions were a headache for the station, which had planned to boost its TikTok output.

Hargis Hall Building at Auburn University

Auburn students can bypass the restrictions by not connecting to campus Wi-Fi.Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

But other students Insider spoke to weren’t too concerned.

Noah Griffith, a journalism senior, said he used to make sports videos on TikTok but deleted the app because it was too “addictive,” sometimes keeping him up late and distracting him from his college work .

Platenburg told Insider she wasn’t too surprised when Auburn announced the restrictions, since she’d already heard about the governor’s order. “I knew it was only a matter of time before it trickled down here on campus,” she said.

“And while it’s a nuisance to faculty, nobody I’ve encountered seemed overly frustrated or angry about the issue,” Platenburg added. “It doesn’t appear to be an issue with no current cause for concern.”

“This is just a social media platform,” she continued. “If students can’t use TikTok, we have Instagram, Facebook and other ways to teach content creation. So they roll with the punches.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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