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Expert, TikTok star weigh-in on lawmakers push to ban the social media app

The U.S. Senate passed a bill that bans the platform on federal employee phones. It's being sent to the House.

TEMPLE, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott adds to a growing list of U.S. lawmakers who want to ban the social media app "TikTok" because of cybersecurity concerns.

The Senate recently passed a bill banning the app on federal employee cell phones. Lawmakers want the app banned nationwide on the Apple Store soon.

Texas A&M Central Texas IT Professor Dr. Abhijit Nag says apps like TikTok have become more popular for users, but also a target for lawmakers because of cybersecurity concerns.

However, he says cybersecurity scares are not all alike.

"This is actually a case by case nowadays because we share data all the time," Nag said. "So you should always careful about what kind of permissions you provide."

He says other apps like Twitter and Facebook are mostly text message apps. An app like TikTok primarily uses video and voice which is biometric data that is more coveted and can be used to hack or track users.

He says the proper precautions are in place. You should only ever allow these apps to have the bare minimum information required for use.

"Any information you need in order to access the app, there are some very minimal things that you need to share," Nag said. "You always make sure that you enable two factor authentication so that it's not only your username and password but at the same time you need to add an extra factor."

TikTok user Joe Cutuli, also known as "Woozyegg," started his Tiktok journey after some friends encouraged him after hearing his storytelling skills. 

He's racked up 261,000 followers on the app and counting. He says he knew what he was signing up for when he made his account.

"I know at least I'm signing up for putting my stuff out to the public as it is," Cutuli said.

He says it's no secret, especially if you're going to use the app publicly instead of privately. However, it's not much of a deterrent because so many folks use the app anyway.

"We all know about and still choose to sign up for these apps, it kind of tells you all that you need to know in terms of banning apps. I don't think it's the answer," Cutuli said.

Cutuli says he's expanded to other social media platforms to continue to sustain a passive income and his hobby of making entertaining videos.

Either way, while he believes a ban may not be the answer, he knows data is a tricky thing to handle.

"It's definitely a little bit nerve wracking, but data is scary in general and if there's a security breach on that then there's gonna be so many other people affected," Cutuli said.

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