Open in App
Palm Beach Daily News

No more TikTok? Palm Beach County students won't be able to access video site in August

By Katherine Kokal, Palm Beach Post,


Some TikTok users, particularly students in Florida who are banned from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom, defend the application as a space to express themselves.

Palm Beach Post

When Palm Beach County students start classes on Aug. 10, many will notice they'll no longer be able to access TikTok on their school-provided computers or devices.

That's because a new law that bans the short video-sharing application on all state-owned devices goes into effect July 1. The law also bars school districts from using the app to promote school activities.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the ban into law in May, saying he wanted to “make it very clear we don’t want the CCP (the Chinese Communist Party) in the Sunshine State.”

TikTok has more than 150 million users in the U.S. and is owned by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance. DeSantis and other governmental leaders worry that the Chinese government will force the company to turn over American users' data.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said in March that "China’s government has never and will not ask companies to 'collect or provide data, information or intelligence' held in foreign countries, adding the U.S. 'has not provided any evidence so far to prove that TikTok threatens U.S. national security,'" The Associated Press reported.

TikTok users, particularly those like pre-K through eighth grade students in Florida who are banned from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation in the classroom, have defended the application as a space to express themselves, learn about their identities and connect with other LGBTQ+ people.

Last year, 33% of TikTok users said they get their news on the social media site, according to a Pew Research Center study. That was up from 22% in 2020.

More laws impacting schools:Later start times, new graduation rules: 6 laws affecting Palm Beach County students

But TikTok has been controversial for school leaders. Certain viral TikTok challenges have led to students vandalizing school property, and shooting threats to schools have also spread on the site.

Palm Beach County Schools Chief Finance Officer Heather Frederick said Wednesday that the school district can easily block apps on school devices. The school district's Wi-Fi networks currently block Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Students have been able to disconnect from school Wi-Fi and use personal data to access certain social media sites on their own devices.

But school board Chairman Frank Barbieri warned Superintendent Mike Burke about catching parents by surprise with the TikTok ban.

"I suggest your communications department better get a message out before the board gets inundated with parents saying, 'My kid can't get on TikTok, and he's driving me crazy,'" he said. "Probably of the 180,000 kids out there 179,000 of them use TikTok, so we should probably be ready for that."

Katherine Kokal is a journalist covering education at The Palm Beach Post. You can reach her at Help support our work, subscribe today!

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment

Comments / 0