What the Tech? Is TikTok Collecting Your Personal Data?
TikTok is the world’s #1 entertainment app. More popular than YouTube and any video streaming app.
It provides an endless stream of videos shot and uploaded by users. You’ve no doubt watched a viral TikTok video as they’re showing up in the news and shared on social media sites such as Facebook.
Recently, the app has raised suspicions over what information it is collecting from users. The security software firm Check Point discovered earlier this year that the app made it easy for hackers to access user’s personal information.
“The biggest problem was there was a way to influence individual user accounts,” said Matt Lourens of Check Point. “There was different ways where you could actually get credentials, specific information, birthdays, email addresses, even payment information.”
Once Check Point made TikTok’s parent company ByteDance aware of the vulnerabilities, Lourens said the problems were remedied in an app update.
Then, some iPhone users noticed TikTok was accessing a user’s clipboard on the device. TikTok quickly moved to fix that issue.
But those issues have raised some suspicions about the popular app. What other information might be accessed through the app? And was TikTok trying to slip something by its users? Or were these two ‘accidents’?
Lourens said there is a lot of speculation about the intentions of the TikTok app and of ByteDance.
“TikTok is not available in China where the company is created,” he said. “I understand they have a different platform. That to me begs the question of why that would be the case?”
“ByteDance is an organization that’s designed to collect data. That’s what they do. They use artificial intelligence, they start forming profiles.”
And what might they do with the profiles of over a billion people worldwide?
“If we target 10 years, 15 years from now to have campaigns; political, national, international, then influencing minors today is victory in the future,” Lourens said. “You can go and speculate on a lot of different things, but the fact is, if you’re on TikTok you are essentially sharing information, not essentially, absolutely sharing information with a data collecting organization.”
Lourens did applaud TikTok and ByteDance’ quick moves to fix issues in updates.
So can you enjoy watching TikTok videos without fear you’re sharing too much? Lourens said after those updates, yes.
“As far as we know, and with the information when the testing was done, it is safe to our knowledge.”