TikTok ban forces MSU to adapt


Colin Stevenson

Tiktok is currently banned on MSU networks, and all official MSU accounts on the platform are deactivated, 2023.

Texas state agencies and universities are moving swiftly to achieve compliance with a new mandate from Gov. Greg Abbott. The mandate will affect state employees at all levels by banning TikTok, one of the most popular social media platforms, from all state devices and networks. The ban arose from concerns that TikTok could be used by China, where the app originated, to remotely survey state agencies and gather sensitive data.

Since MSU is a state university, university officials have had to work to put together a plan to submit to the state. The state required plans to be submitted by Feb. 15. 

Interim President Keith Lamb confirmed that the university will no longer use TikTok in any official capacity.

“As a state agency, we will fully comply with the governor’s orders. And, you know, you won’t be able to access TikTok on our Wi-Fi platform, right, or on state computers,” Lamb said.

A statement from the university echoed that MSU has worked to be compliant with the new guidelines.

“We have taken appropriate measures in response to the governor’s ban, including deactivating all official MSU Texas accounts. While we had seen success in communicating with our stakeholders through this medium, we understand the necessity with complying the governor’s directive as it pertains to safety for state agencies,” the MSU statement read.

MSU has collaborated with other members of the Texas Tech system, which has led the way in creating safety and compliance guidelines. Lamb said coordination had been key to ensuring all agencies are on the same page.

“We’re working through it obviously,” Lamb said, later adding “We’ve fully complied with the governor’s orders to this point. The Tech system is really helping us work through it, so all the components are taking the same measures.”

In a public statement, the Texas Tech system said all universities in the system have submitted their plans to comply with the guidelines for approval.

“The Texas Tech University System has received the statewide model security plan that was shared by the Governor’s office on Monday, Feb. 6, and was developed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). The TTU System Administration and component university leadership teams have worked closely with information technology leaders across the system to develop a prohibited technologies policy that aligns with the guidance provided from DPS and DIR. Each TTU System component university submitted their respective institution’s plan to the state for its approval by the deadline (Feb. 15) provided,” The Texas Tech system statement said. 

In a press release, the state of Texas said Gov. Abbott is willing to help pass bills that share his directive’s goals. The Texas state legislature is in session until May 29.

“The Governor also informed Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan that the Executive Branch is ready to assist in codifying and implementing any necessary cybersecurity reforms passed during the current legislative session, including passing legislation to make permanent the Governor’s directive to state agencies.”