US colleges are banning TikTok on campus. But this popular TikTok creator is using hot spots and a Starlink-equipped speedster van to get around the ban and reach his millions of followers.

  • Several colleges have banned TikTok through their WiFi systems, citing security concerns.

  • This decision prompted creators and students to find alternative ways to access the app.

  • Leon Ondieki, a TikTok creator with millions of followers, has set up a mobile workstation so he can edit his videos without strings attached.

US colleges and universities are banning TikTok on campuses, but it’s only a “little hurdle” for some creators and influencers who use the quad for content and rely on the revenue they get from the popular app.

Like Leon Ondieki, for example.

Known as @leon.ond on the platform, the 20-year-old has garnered over 2 million followers from his content. It consists of impromptu challenges, man-on-the-street interviews, and trivia games not only at the University of Georgia, where he attended school, but on other college campuses as well.

TikTok is his bread and butter and has helped him pay his tuition out of pocket and avoid taking out student loans, Ondieki told Insider in a phone interview.

“I was able to pay for my college, my books, my living expenses… which was really nice. It gave me a lot of peace of mind. And then from there, I was able to buy my first car my freshman year in college,” he said.

However, with the surge in colleges imposing restrictions on TikTok access — citing national security and privacy concerns, according to USA Today — Ondieki and creators like him are finding alternative ways to use the app.

Several universities cracked down on TikTok and announced it was being removed from campus WiFi systems

The University of Georgia and other institutions in several states, including Texas and Alabama, recently announced various bans, the outlet reported. It comes amid growing national security concerns from federal officials that the Chinese-owned social media app could be used for spy operations, Insider reported earlier.

“There have been a lot of TikTok ban threats over the last few years, so my initial reaction to that was, ‘Not again,’ because it’s happening, but this time it’s real,” Ondieki said.

“So, starting last year, I started diversifying the platforms I’m posting on” as a precaution, he added.

He noted that since expanding his content to other platforms he has been able to gain more than 1 million subscribers on Youtube and more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.

Before the ban was announced, Ondieki made the decision to take a year off school to go on his second college tour and shoot content across campuses with fellow social media creator, Wyatt Eiden, who has nearly 3 million TikTok followers.

Editing content on the go

The crew got a Mercedes Sprinter for their trip, which satellite internet provider Starlink has, so “we could keep editing and charging wherever we were,” Ondieki said. Plus, she continued, they also have a T-Mobile hot spot as a backup.

This time went better than their last tour, Eiden, 23, told Insider.

“We lived off our cars and worked when we could. Sometimes we’d stop by a library or a school and work from there and use their WiFi,” she said. “But this time, having the mobile workstation will help us a lot.”

Ondieki said this setup will especially come in handy at one of his planned stops at the University of Texas at Austin. It is one of the largest universities in the state, but this month it announced that students will not be able to access TikTok over the university’s wired or WiFi networks following a directive from Governor Greg Abbott.

However, while there are some concerns, some students aren’t fazed and have previously told Insider’s Kieran Press-Reynolds that they will be using their cellular service or VPN to access the wildly popular video-sharing app.

“I feel like colleges banning TikTok on their WiFi network is a small obstacle for creators, but it’s not a complete obstacle,” Ondieki said. “I feel like long term the creators will still find a way to post.”

Read the original Insider article

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