TikTok is currently embroiled in a dispute with the United States government about data collection and user privacy.
Because the app is owned and operated by a Chinese company called ByteDance, the Trump administration has threatened to ban it unless an American company steps in to take control.
But how much data does TikTok actually collect on its users? The answer is: quite a lot actually.
Obviously, when you sign up for an account you have to part with some measure of personal information but there also a whole lot more being recorded in the background when you use the app.
TikTok isn’t alone in this regard. Social media companies have built empires on the amount of data they collect (ahem, Facebook) in order to better appeal to customers and successfully advertise to them.
It bears repeating – plenty of other social media apps will also scrape your contacts list to try and collect as much data as possible.
Other apps and functions
TikTok will take note of what other apps you’ve got running on your phone as well as network data you’ve got saved.
So, it will know if you’ve got other social apps on your device and which IP address you’re using when you connect to the internet to use them.
Unless you specify not to in your phone’s settings, it will also collect location data about where you are in the world.
Posting on Reddit, user /bangorlol explains that after reverse-engineering TikTok, there’s a lot of data collection going on: ‘TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device… well, they’re using it.’
Similarly, in this lengthy article exploring the code behind TikTok, French researcher Elliot Alderson comes to a similar conclusion. However, he points out that this kind of data collection is also practiced by other social media apps like Facebook or Snapchat.
Where do you stand on TikTok’s data collection policies? Is it enough to stop you using the app or aren’t you bothered? Let us know in the comments section below.
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