DUDLEY, Mass. - As the federal government continues to set its sights on a potential ban of TikTok, millions are still using the platform regardless of its possible security risks. Local users said they're aware of the concerns, but find a balance between enjoying the experience and giving up their privacy.
What You Need To Know
- Tik Tok users are balancing their privacy concerns while continuing to use the app
- Nichols College President Glenn Sulmasy fears the impact of its security risks could be felt for years to come
- A Nichols College cybersecurity student said users need to understand the risks
- The app averages more than 150 million monthly users in the United States
Ronnie Joseph is a graduate student at Nichols College studying cybersecurity, but he also describes himself as "TikTok famous."
“I’m an artist, I’m a rapper, I use TikTok for a lot," Joseph said. "I use it to promo my music, music videos, things like that, people give me more interactions there. I like to dance too, that’s a big thing on TikTok."
The artist in him sees what most users see - a platform to self express and share his creative interests with the world. On the other hand, his field of study keeps him on his toes when it comes to TikTok’s privacy concerns.
He’s not the only one on campus with a unique perspective on the controversial app. Nichols College President Glenn Sulmasy is a nationally recognized expert on national security.
“It does have national security implications," Sulmasy said. "There is an understanding that the company that owns it is an affiliate of the communist party, so they get data on where you live, even what you’re typing as you’re using that app. That sort of data is particularly damaging to those in the national security field, whether that be in government, the military or even higher education.”
While the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have banned Tik Tok on government devices, Sulmasy fears the move won’t be enough to relieve those concerns when the information gathered by the app could cause damage for the next generation of leaders.
"They’re collecting data on U.S. citizens," Sulmasy said. "They might be a student, one of my students here, who might be the future governor of Massachusetts, who might be President of the United States, and they gather data and hold that data until a time they need to use it to gain leverage or some superior value over an individual or the country.”
But unless a wider ban of TikTok goes into effect, users like Joseph plan to keep the videos coming, but he’s aware of the risks that come with it.
“Users just have to understand since TikTok is now growing, we have to play a part in understanding what we do on TikTok and what we put out there," Joseph said. "We have to make sure we’re not putting the wrong things out there and people know how to use the application.”
TikTok averages more than 150 million monthly users in the United States. TikTok's CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress Thursday as the U.S. considers further actions to restrict the app.