Michigan recently joined a small number of Democrat-led states in a ban of TikTok from state-issued devices but included some exceptions that include the governor’s popular account.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), whose TikTok includes nearly 200,000 followers, falls under exclusions for publicity, according to the new ban.
Governor’s office spokesperson Bobby Leddy said Whitmer’s device follows the new guidelines “that block it from things that are connected to servers or state information.”
“It’s a state of Michigan device, but it follows the guidelines that are in place for the exceptions,” Leddy said. “And the exceptions are for any department that feels that they need it for their job to convey with the public, or for investigative purposes.”
The exceptions in the state’s TikTok government ban allow for usage by law enforcement, cybersecurity and promotional usage. Whitmer’s account has continued to post new content since the ban under the promotional exception.
The ban on state-issued devices went into effect on March 1.
More than half of the nation’s states have now blocked TikTok from state devices. Nebraska implemented the first ban in 2020, with more than two dozen others joining in recent months after South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem issued an executive order to remove the app from government devices due to security issues.
At the end of 2022, Congress approved a ban on TikTok on federal government devices as part of its omnibus bill.
A group of a dozen bipartisan senators has also recently introduced the REACT Act that would allow the federal government the ability to ban the app nationwide.
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last month to urge the Committee on Foreign Investment to “to swiftly conclude its investigation and impose strict structural restrictions between TikTok’s American operations and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, including potentially separating the companies.”
The letter cited examples of TikTok being used to hack the private data of journalists, including in the U.S.
“On December 22nd, ByteDance acknowledged that staff based in China and the United States had spied on the private data of journalists and others in order identify sources behind articles critical of the company, confirming reporting by Forbes,” the senators wrote.
In addition to government bans of TikTok, several state university systems have banned the app on campus networks and devices. The University of Texas campus system became the largest school system to join the trend, removing the option of tens of thousands of students from using campus wireless networks with the app.