Potential TikTok ban could threaten WXJM content

By Campbell Wood

WXJM and other JMU student organizations have used TikTok to advertise, display personality, and gain notoriety on campus, however, a congressional bill to ban the app could threaten their accounts.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill early this March requiring the short-form social media app to be sold from its China-owned parent company, ByteDance, or else the app will be banned in the U.S. The United States has had numerous problems with Chinese-owned companies in the past, such as copying patents or selling intellectual property. With a multitude of JMU organizations on campus possessing TikTok accounts, the content created could go with the wind. 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) issued an executive order a year ago banning ByteDance-owned applications such as TikTok from government technology, requiring the official JMU TikTok account, as well as any other JMU-affiliated accounts, to become sunsetted. JMU Social Media Manager Rochelle Reed says the JMU TikTok account “had the goal of showing life at JMU through the eyes of current students.”

When the legislation was enacted on Jul. 1, 2023, all JMU-affiliated accounts became inactive. A final video posted to the account reads “So long, farewell, to you our friends. Goodbye, for now, until we meet again.” While the account is currently inactive, Reed says the social media has shifted their focus and strategy to other platforms to stay connected with our community.

In the past two years, WXJM has amassed thousands of likes and followers on TikTok with our on-campus interviews and music-related content. WXJM Social Media Manager Sophia Miller credits TikTok with gaining the radio station campus-wide recognizability. 

“We started the TikTok account a year ago from scratch with zero followers, and then started posting "What are you listening to?" videos and that's kind of what made us take off. People definitely know who we are now more because of the TikToks. Now, people recognize us as more of an organization, and have started to recognize the members of WXJM too.”

With almost six thousand followers and four hundred thousand likes, the content that has boosted our station could be wiped away. Since Universal Music Group removed its songs from the app earlier this year, some of these videos have already been affected. 

“Getting rid of so much music on the app, it has really limited us and we've had so many videos taken down. I see probably six videos that did very well are now muted.” Miller says this has helped her transition away from TikTok.

The bill is currently headed to the Senate to be approved and passed, yet they have not taken any action at the moment. JMU organizations and WXJM could potentially join the official JMU TikTok and become inactive if the bill is passed. “Our community expansion could possibly sink.”