How the TikTok ban may affect student-run accounts

Oregon State students Brian Munger and Lainey Anderson watch Oregon State Liberal Arts TikTok videos in Corvallis, Oregon on May 16, 2024.
Oregon State students Brian Munger and Lainey Anderson watch Oregon State Liberal Arts TikTok videos in Corvallis, Oregon on May 16, 2024.
Landon Marks

While a TikTok ban is looming above users, some are questioning whether or not student-run, college based accounts will suffer loss of engagement.

At Oregon State University, some big accounts known are the College of Liberal Arts and the OSU Honors College account. On TikTok, these accounts are run by students participating in trends that they can connect the college experience to.

Recently, President Joe Biden has signed a bill allowing the ban of the app. According to AP, the bill gives TikTok parent company ByteDance nine months to sell the app, plus an additional three months once a sale begins. The bill comes following concerns from lawmakers that the Beijing-based company could be forced to hand over data about United States users to Chinese authorities.

However, this is expected to be challenged in court, which would drag on the sale further.

“I think (TikTok) helps a lot of colleges and Oregon State in general to, not recruit, (but) just to make Oregon State colleges more visible to others, so they can apply to this school,” said David Beglaryan, a second-year student who works with the College of Liberal Arts TikTok account.

Beglaryan also runs his own personal account, where he has 41,000 followers. There, he mostly posts about soccer.

“To me, TikTok is a fun app where the Honors College is able to connect with the student body and potential students,” said Grace Knutsen, a fifth-year student studying history and the editor of the Honors College Instagram and Tiktok. “It’s become a part of our generation’s culture and I believe it has been the source of some positivity, including connection during the COVID-19 quarantine and as a way to self-express.”

Beglaryan said he and the liberal arts team briefly spoke about the ban, but were noting how the ban would not go into effect for at least a couple months, so they have time to figure it out.

Knutsen has yet to bring the ban up with her supervisor as she feels the ban is not currently a threat.

When Beglaryan heard about the ban, he began using Instagram reels as another account. He said the team has begun doing the same thing.

“(If TikTok were to get banned), I think we would concentrate more on YouTube shorts,” Beglaryan said. “We’re already posting on youtube shorts but not as frequently as Instagram and TikTok.”

Many accounts create a TikTok video, then just post the same thing on Instagram Reels.

“While TikTok is a place to connect with the student body and especially with users who aren’t already following the Honors College on social media, we don’t actually get a lot of interaction with users on TikTok as compared to Instagram,” Knutsen said. “Because we cross-post videos to both TikTok and Instagram reels, the Honors College would still create similar content and only post it to Instagram in the event of a ban.”

Beglaryan spoke about how even though he opposes the ban, he understands the motive behind it. He described it as a “double-edged sword.” He described TikTok as a place for people to share their stories and hobbies.

“I understand concerns about the ways in which social media can fuel misinformation and extremism,” Knutsen said. “I don’t know that I believe that the government should be allowed to ban an app like TikTok due to our First Amendment rights, even if that ban were to come under the best of intentions.”

Beglaryan noted that lately there has been less engagement on TikTok, and that currently, his Instagram engagement is higher.

“I think if TikTok got banned, it wouldn’t influence me that much,” Beglaryan said. “My Instagram engagement is way higher, which is like the most important thing in social media.”

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