Everyone’s talking about the TikTok app. Teens and tweens are sharing, swiping, and laughing watching TikTok Videos. TikTok is growing its user-base worldwide rapidly. TikTok has 1 billion downloads in total over 155 countries. Approximately 60 percent of TikTok’s audience is between 16 and 24 Years old. Guidelines from TikTok says that anyone 12+ Years old can use the app, though there’s no age-verification process during the setup of the app.
These days TikTok has been heavily criticized for its privacy protection, taking data of users without their concern and possible connection to authoritarian governments. what do you think is TikTok a serious threat for users or its just normal as other social media platforms.
What is TikTok?
After lots of Viral news about the TikTok, I hope you know about the App. But for the sake of formality, the app is based out of China, TikTok is a video-based social networking app that replaced the Musical.ly app, which ended its digital run in 2017. The app allows users to create an account, make and post short 15-60-second videos usually lip-syncing to a song or a scene from a movie, or sharing a dance routine. as well as view, comment on, and share videos from other users.
Why TikTok get Viral?
As we all know human brain attracts easy and fun things. So TikTok is the latest and greatest digital trend in which users get the latest fun and unique videos daily of their preference which is petty much relatable to them. On the other hand, the content creators of TikTok get new and creative ways to express themselves. they can follow their interests, entertained, and be rewarded with views, likes, and shares for their artistic talent or efforts. and most importantly TikTok has built-in editing tools, free music, and dialogue clips, and filters that make creating videos easy for anyone without any editing skills.
Is TikTok Safe to use?
TikTok is the service which is completely used through the smartphone app, so it’s more important that how serious the app developer has taken care of the privacy of the users using the app.
When you are installing the app from the App Store or Play Store after installing it will take some permissions to run, as listed below.
- Device & app history
- Wi-Fi connection information
- Other (basic access)
All the permission is quite relevant and normal for video creation and sharing app right. But if you have seen the permission list carefully you will not see any kind of location permission, but have you ever think how TikTok is fetching your accurate geographic location without location permission within the app.
During the test, I have used a VPN to trick my current location. and turned off my device location. then I opened the Google Maps and it’s asking for the device location, I Opened Netflix it’s showing all international content instead of Indian content but in the case of TikTok, it’s still showing me my regional content Bengali and Hindi. As in the initial setup process, I have opted only for English.
So how this is possible without your location permission. So these Chinese fellows play the trick here, they fetch your location from your Device SIM card. Without your concern. So whatever trick you play to change the location they will continue to steal your location without your concern.
1. Children Use
TikTok has separate Privacy for Young users. Which explains how TikTok treats data from young users. Now I’m figuring out how they come to know about the young users as they don’t have any age verification process. Even though this is intended to protect young users from excessive tracking but this app still collects a range of data about these users.
2. Chinese Connection
Chinese data laws allow any branch of the Chinese government to potentially access and view your TikTok activity. TikTok claims that it does not store user data in China, but there is very little transparency into how this app actually works.
The concern is that any data that is stored or processed in China is subject to state-sponsored surveillance. TikTok users around the world are sharing their location data and other behavioral information with the app, and that’s why people are concerned. The Chinese government could be using the data that TikTok collects to “spy on” people around the world.
3. Offers Very Little Transparency
Released its first “Transparency Report” at the end of 2019. However, this report didn’t answer many of the questions that are related to privacy.
The report focused on how TikTok was engaging with government bodies, but it didn’t address privacy concerns about other groups that TikTok is sharing data with.
One of the biggest surprises from TikTok’s Transparency report was that TikTok did not receive any legal requests from China to remove or edit content. However, the explanation for this is likely that TikTok is separate from Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
4. Organizations Banning
Different organizations are taking strict action against TikTok by preventing their employees from using TikTok. TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is the latest US government agency to ban employees from using TikTok.
All branches of the military and Security forces have advised members not to use TikTok. The Department of Homeland Security has also banned TikTok from its devices.
Nothing is free in this world. Even the packet of “Lays” charges you for the air they filled 🤣 Jokes Apart. Whenever you are using any service for free we are the product and our data is our currency. So be aware before using any kind of app read their privacy and policy properly, at least check the permissions that the app asking for.
Still, if you want to check out is TikTok safe or not, please don’t use your default Google or Facebook account to signup, create a new demo account from scratch and check it out. And try to avoid Chinese apps. I think you have already heard about previously UC Browser have some privacy-related issues.
Giving 1 Star rating and bad reviews don’t solve data theft. It’s all up to you how you use the app and its data-sharing policy. I hope you understand and from now you take care of data and think twice before sharing with any random apps.