The popularity of TikTok has exploded during the pandemic. The social media app that launched in 2016 has people addicted to watching short user video clips edited with effects and music.
The average user spends 52 minutes a day on the app and it is not just kids. Adults have been drawn to the app as well. Even some small businesses have discovered that they can use it for marketing to find new customers.
However, the app has not only been in the news because of its recent growth. It has been banned by the U.S. military and companies like Wells Fargo. There is also a potential ban looming for TikTok in the U.S.
The controversy stems from the fact that the company that owns TikTok, ByteDance, is based in China.
There are worries that because of all the data the app collects, it could be a serious threat to online safety for millions of Americans and the app could actually be used for spying by the Chinese government.
Currently, Microsoft is in talks to possibly purchase the app to help prevent the ban. In the meantime, people are still posting, messaging and watching videos on the app. During that time, a lot of data is being collected and it is likely a lot more than they realize.
How Much Data Are You Giving Up to TikTok?
In this day and age, people are used to having their movements tracked online using cookies and typically understand the tradeoff of using a free app that shares data with advertisers.
But what about having your keystroke patterns tracked? That is just one of the pieces of data users may not realize is being collected when they use TikTok.
A virus removal can be done to help prevent adware. However, when it comes to an app you install and then activate by agreeing to its policies, data is collected with your permission even if you are not fully aware of how much data they have collected.
Standard Registration Information
This includes the information you provide when you sign up and includes things like your username, password, email address, phone number and age.
The app will also collect the data you set up in your profile such as your profile image, your name and your other social media accounts. When you connect accounts like Twitter or Facebook to TikTok, that means the app will collect more data from those other social accounts.
Your Generated Content
Any content that you add to the platform is also being collected. This would include videos or photos you post and the comments you make on videos.
Your Social and Phone Contacts
When you give the app permission, it can also collect contact information that you may have in your phone book/contact application and in any connected social media accounts.
Data on your contacts that the app collects includes names, phone numbers and public profiles on social accounts.
Here is where data sharing can get a little scarier due to the details the app collects from your mobile device automatically. This includes:
- Your IP address
- Model of your device
- Mobile carrier
- Time zone setting
- Operating system
- App and file names and types
That last one is very concerning because it means that TikTok is collecting information on the file names and types that are on your mobile device as well as all the apps you have installed.
That would include when you input passwords and your credit card numbers. While the app maker may be more interested in analyzing how fast you move from one key to another, the fact that they have your keystroke data does not stop it from being used for more nefarious purposes.
The app collects your location information from your SIM card and/or IP address. With your permission, it can also collect your GPS tracking data. You can stop that by turning GPS location off on your phone or specifically for the app.
If you are using TikTok for direct messaging with someone, the app is also collecting, scanning and analyzing the information in any messages you send and receive through the app.
Who Does TikTok Share Your Data With?
That is quite a lot of invasive data that the app collects on its users! It also does not keep all that data to itself so it can share it with any number of entities including:
- Service providers and business partners
- Within the corporate group
- In connection with a sale, merger or other business transfer
- For legal reasons (including “government inquiries”)
How Safe is Your Mobile Device?
Invasive apps are just one potential security issue when it comes to smartphones. Mobile malware is also on the rise. Sound Computers can help you ensure your personal or company’s mobile devices are protected.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Call 860-577-8060 or reach us online.