Lubbock TikTok stars push back against TikTok ban

Local News

LUBBOCK, TX — Lubbock is home for verified TikTok stars Cristian and Sergio Rodriguez, known as the “Rodriguez twins” to their fans, and they told KAMC News that they do not believe TikTok will be banned.

The video app has been the subject of controversy in recent weeks amid allegations that the app spies on users, and Monday, President Trump announced that he would not ban TikTok if the app could find a U.S. buyer before September 15, giving creators like the Rodriguez twins time to switch their fanbase to a new platform.

For years, the 25-year-olds have been making video content on social media outlets like Vine, Instagram, Youtube and now TikTok. They have turned TikTok into an especially lucrative business, earning brand deals with companies, such as Curology, and making thousands of dollars on videos.

“We do comedy, music, we do scary videos like ghost reactions,” Cristian Rodriguez said.

The brothers’ TikTok account boasts almost 1.5 million followers, and they said one of their career milestones was getting verified, or getting a “blue tick” by their username.

“It was the best accomplishment ever because we worked so hard to get to where we’re at. It’s not that easy to become TikTok popular,” Sergio Rodriguez said.

However, cyber security experts, such as Darrin Johnson, a California-based senior systems engineer for Progent, warned TikTok users about the safety issues in the app. He said they should assume that everything they post is being watched by the Chinese government.

“I absolutely do believe that TikTok does pose a security risk and a violation of individual users’ rights,” Johnson said.

Last June, Johnson added that Apple caught TikTok spying on millions of iPhone users by going through their “clipboards” — everything you copy from emails to passwords while using your iPhone.

However, he emphasized that he does not believe the U.S. should ban the app, wanting to avoid what he thinks would be censorship.

“It’s definitely not an application I would recommend nor allow, but I don’t go to the level of ever banning anything. I believe education is the proper approach,” Johnson said.

The Rodriguez twins said they’ve talked to TikTok management regarding the concerns, and although they understand the multiple risks, they have accepted that in the social media age, it’s almost impossible to keep your information private. They said they don’t think they’ll have to stop making TikTok videos anytime soon.

“You can’t hide. If you have a Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and you download it on your phone, [your information] is already out there,” Cristian Rodriguez said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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