UF recommends faculty, students uninstall TikTok

Tiktok Social media network app
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UF sent an email Thursday recommending faculty and students uninstall the social media TikTok app over security concerns.

In the email, UF cited rising concerns over potential security risks associated with the social media app, which is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance. UF officials said experts warn that foreign governments may use the app to control data collection and compromise personal devices, or manipulate algorithms to amplify pro-China narratives.

The message said the protection of UF data is an institutional priority and that a full TikTok ban on university devices and networks is "a strong possibility."

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UF's warning comes weeks after President Joe Biden signed a new law that bans TikTok on government-issued devices. It was the latest in a range of bipartisan attempts aimed at limiting the influence of TikTok.

Below is the full UF email:

To the University of Florida community:

The University of Florida has been monitoring developments regarding the social media app TikTok, particularly growing concerns over the security risks it poses. As a result, the university is strongly discouraging the use of TikTok.

Prominent experts continue highlighting TikTok as a national security concern, pointing to the possibility that foreign governments may use TikTok to control data collection, influence TikTok's recommendation algorithm, and compromise personal devices. In addition, the TikTok U.S. Privacy Policy indicates they, “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information … such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content.”

You may have seen reports that all federal employees will soon be prohibited from using TikTok on government-issued devices. Additionally, 23 states have taken action against TikTok, including Florida, and numerous universities and colleges nationwide are either being required to, or opting to, follow their state's actions.

As the university considers additional future steps, we strongly recommend that everyone discontinue using TikTok and remove the app from their devices. Taking this action will help protect your personal information as well as university data.

The University of Florida continuously evaluates technology vendors and software products and services and maintains a list of approved technologies on UF’s Fast Path solutions website. High-risk software and services that present an unacceptable cybersecurity risk to the university are listed as ‘not permitted for use.’  There is a strong possibility that TikTok will be added in the future to the Fast Path list of software applications not permitted on university devices and networks.

The university treats the protection of UF data – academic records, research, financial information, and other sensitive, personally identifying information – as an institutional priority.

Thank you for doing your part in helping to protect UF.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


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