HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is the latest state to jump into the national wave, potentially banning TikTok on state-issued cell phones.
Twenty-seven states have done so over security concerns, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
TikTok is by far the most used app among the younger generation with more than a billion monthly users. Its largest audience is in the U.S.
But several state lawmakers are proposing a popular social media app ban on state-owned phones due to over security concerns.
“We’re better safe than sorry when it comes to our data and security within the government,” Sen. Ryan Fazio (R-District 36) Ryan Fazio said.
Although previously denied by its creators, the app can store data and keystrokes — risking the leak of sensitive information. Chinese tech company ByteDance owns the app, heightening concerns over other apps like American-owned Facebook.
“We live in a dangerous world, and there’s certainly been a lot of geopolitical friction between the United States and China,” Fazio said. “So, stopping downloads of TikTok and WeChat and other applications where there could be transmission of vital data and information to other governments, it we’re better off precluding that possibility.”
John Powers, a professor at Quinnipiac University, said that anyone who uses the app is at risk or being hacked and having their identity stolen.
The concerns go beyond security.
Powers said the algorithm-feeding videos are less regulated in the U.S. than in China, where the app was created and where there is a 10 p.m. curfew for those using it.
In the U.S., artificial intelligence predicts and personalizes videos based on the interests of who is scrolling. It’s something avid TikTok users said impacts mental health.
“I decided to delete it a year ago because it was really affecting me, to make me more productive,” said Raquel Maurad, who lives in Farmington.
It’s not a unique problem.
“I enjoy using TikTok but it’s also very distracting but it’s very fun so it really is love hate,” said Camille Denman, a freshman at Yale University.
While most young people News 8 spoke to agree on banning the app on state-issued phones, some argued it violates First Amendment rights.
“It’s just a huge time sink and there’s the aspect of the Chinese government and they could be spying,” said Josiah Schemmann, a freshman at Yale University.
Fazio said there is bipartisan support. Right now the bill is waiting for a public hearing and committee vote.