PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The social media platform TikTok is incredibly popular and controversial and the app is getting a lot of heat from politicians like Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
TikTok lets users watch, create, and share short videos but to Florida’s CFO, there is something insidious at the heart of the social media platform.
“I say it all the time it’s like digital fentanyl,” Patronis said.
He said the app is incredibly addictive but his main concern is who is getting the data from TikTok users.
“TikTok, it’s wholly owned and based out of China, there’s no checks and balances there’s no access we have to the back office, there’s no investigation abilities we have as a government into how it operates,” Patronis said.
Patronis said the threat to state universities is a major concern given what information may be taken.
“My concern is if you’ve got millions and millions of dollars being spent at our universities and you’ve got somebody unknowingly using a device on a school network that ultimately may be sharing your emails, your PDFs, your spreadsheet, your research with, you know, a foreign government, which literally allows them to have it for free because of the entertainment value of that that they provide,” Patronis said. “We spent millions of dollars and then China ends up getting that information for pennies on the dollar.”
He wants to put a firewall at state universities to ensure the research is protected. While he is pushing for legislation to ban the app at schools, he already has implemented his own ban.
“In my office about two years ago, banned TikTok on any state device,” Patronis said. “I’ve got a jurisdiction over those. My employees don’t pay for them the state does so I can put blockers on there for those devices, with the university it’s a little tougher. “
Several other government agencies do not allow the use of TikTok either. Patronis said lawmakers may look to outlaw the app at campuses this spring.
Earlier this month the University of Florida released a statement about security issues with TikTok.
The statement said “as the university considers additional future steps, we strongly recommend that everyone discontinue using TikTok and remove the app from their devices. Taking this action will help protect your personal information as well as university data.”