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Coun. Caputo not convinced city needs a full TikTok ban

‘I’m not very techy, but maybe we could firewall someone’s phone who is allowed to have TikTok,’ said Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo
File photo

Sault Ste. Marie city council agreed Monday to prepare a plan requiring removal of the controversial TikTok app from all city-owned devices.

But Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo wasn't convinced the short-form video app is entirely a bad thing.

"I get the cyber security concerns and all those things," Caputo told her fellow councillors.

"My only comment on this would be: I hope that staff will consider that there may be social media managers who are needing to use this app.

"I know, it kind of comes across as a joke. TikTok. It kind of comes across as a young-kid app. But it's really grown a lot.

"For the purpose of tourism and the growth of our city, I think that just striking things completely can also be damaging.

"I've seen a lot of municipalities on TikTok that are really sharing a lot of great things that they're doing in attracting a lot of tourism.

"I do hope staff will consider that when we are checking this report. Perhaps there are ways that we could like – I'm not very techy, but maybe we could firewall someone’s phone who is allowed to have TikTok.

"I think it is something that we're missing. Social media is massive. I would love us to use every avenue we can to to attract tourism," Caputo said.

Following TikTok bans introduced recently by the federal and provincial governments, Sault Ste. Marie city council will be asked next week to ban the TikTok app from all city-owned devices.

Ward 4 Couns. Stephan Kinach and Marchy Bruni presented a resolution asking that a plan to remove the app be prepared for council's April 11 meeting.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020.

There are growing international concerns that the app  can be used to collect personal data from its users or to spread misinformation.

Both the Ontario and federal governments have banned the app from government-owned devices.

"I think that will be a critical part of what comes back to us, whether or not there is a way to reach people without  the safety concern," Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said Monday.

Malcolm White, the city's chief administrative officer, said the city's corporate communications staff opened a TikTok account when the app started to become popular.

"We've never used it," White said.

"Obviously, corporate communications needs to keep its eyes on all types of social media and predict when things are going to take off, so they can utilize it as a channel of communication.

"I think the landscape with TikTok is going to change, with all the actions that are being taken. I'm not sure it will, in the end, be a channel that is suitable for us, but we do always keep an eye on what's happening in social media. Things have to change."

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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