TikTok Privacy and Security Concerns

Last Updated:
December 22, 2022

TikTok Privacy and Security Concerns

TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world with over 1.5 billion monthly users. With this many users, TikTok has access to a lot of data about consumers and users, and many worry this information could be exploited. Many people are concerned as TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is a Chinese corporation. Below we look at the various TikTok privacy and security concerns you should be aware of as a business, or user.

How do you use TikTok?

To sign up for a TikTok account, each user must give their phone number, email address or log in using a third-party app like Facebook. Once logged in you can use your phone contact information or social media connections to find users you know. Then, start searching for specific videos, add your own TikTok videos, or scroll to find fun videos that the AI (artificial intelligence) suggests.

How does TikTok AI work?

As you watch videos and interact on the app, the AI will learn what videos you like. Then, your suggested videos will include more videos in that genre. Users can interact by following accounts, liking videos, commenting on videos, sharing videos, and sending monetary gifts to video creators. The more you interact, the better the AI works, but this also means ByteDance is getting more data about you.

What data does TikTok collect?

Just like other social media networks, TikTok collects a variety of information about you and your activities online. While this information is detailed in the terms and conditions, many people skim through or do not read them at all. The information TikTok collects includes;

  • Country location
  • Internet address
  • Type of device you use
  • The videos you watch
  • How long you spend on the app
  • The details of any message you send or receive on the app

With additional permissions, TikTok also captures;

  • Your exact location
  • Phone Contacts
  • Social Media Connections
  • Age
  • Phone Number
  • Payment Information

All of this information is used by ByteDance to build a targeting profile. This is then used to show you advertisements that relate to your activities online.

Potential Biometric data collection?

As users give TikTok access to their camera and microphone when they create videos, TikTok is also collecting biometric data. This includes your voice, common phrases you say and face imagery. However, this information is encrypted, to ensure it is hidden from external researchers. TikTok and ByteDance have not addressed how they plan to use this data, or how long it remains on servers before deletion.

Security Concerns

Most security concerns surrounding TikTok come from the fact that the Chinese government could force access to the data they hold. While TikTok maintains they will not willingly share data, many countries are trying to implement additional security measures around the data TikTok collects. Within the US, both the US Department of Defense and Wells Fargo Bank have banned the app due to security control risks.

Another security concern around TikTok is the lack of two-factor authentication. This makes it much easier for hackers to take over accounts and access personal information. Therefore, all users should ensure they have a strong password that is not used on any other device or account to help keep themselves safe.

While TikTok is a popular social media app, the lack of two-factor authentication makes it riskier for general users. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t use the app. You should, however, consider changing your account to private, and regularly changing your password to stop potential hackers from accessing your information. Ultimately, using TikTok is a personal choice, and as long as you are aware of the potential privacy and security concerns, you can make the right choice for you.

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