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Is TikTok Spying On You?

smartphonesshop.com.au - The death of Vine in 2016 left a hole in the hearts of many. These heartbroken users turned to TikTok to fill that void and its popularity has skyrocketed recently. But behind this innocent-looking app, filled with looping videos, lies an ulterior motive. We’re all used to the fact that we have to sacrifice some aspects of our privacy with any app or social media we use, but TikTok seems to demand a little more than it should. It’s not just us being paranoid, our concerns are shared by some heavyweights in the industry which has us more than concerned. Read on to see why it’s a good idea to reconsider installing or keeping TikTok on your device.

All Your Data Are Belong To Us

It’s concerning enough as it is when apps based in the U.S are careless with your data (*cough* Facebook *cough*), but when an app is being investigated by the U.S government, with anonymous sources (according to the New York Postclaiming it is sending data to China, it’s more than a cause for alarm. The U.S Military has gone as far as to ban TikTok from being installed on any government-issued device according to The Washington Post, citing security risks. Leaders in the U.S senate have even asked intelligence officials to investigate the App over concerns about Chinese spies accessing the data of users. Before you dismiss this as another conspiracy, according to CPO magazine the ruling Communist Party of China requires private companies to provide access to their data if they ever request it. They called us uncool and boring when we warned about the risks of this app, but who’s got the last laugh now?


It doesn’t just stop there. Reddit user bangorlol reverse-engineered the app and called TikTok “a data collection service thinly veiled as a social network.” The Reddit user also claims that the app goes as far as to record what type of device you use, whether your phone is jailbroken/rooted or not, your network data and perhaps the scariest, GPS pinging. You might say “well Facebook and Instagram collect my data already,” but bangorlol has actually reverse-engineered the apps for Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Instagram and stated that they do not collect anywhere near the amount of Data that TikTok does. Still not worried?

iOS 14 Saves The Day

While we’ve already fallen in love with the iOS 14 beta, we’ve now got another reason to love Apple’s new OS for our iPhones. iOS 14’s security features notify you whenever an app requests permissions such as your camera, microphone etc, and wouldn’t you know, it caught TikTok snooping in the act! Jeremy Burge, CEO of Emojipedia was recently greeted with plenty of notifications from iOS 14 that TikTok was accessing his clipboard for every 1-3 strokes. According to BGR, right after this exposure, TikTok claimed it was a feature to protect its platform from spam. While TikTok claims to be concerned about protecting the data of its userbase, it’s quite telling when an app behaves like a keylogger.

A Nightmare For Parents

Perhaps the worst concern about TikTok is the risks it exposes to young people on the platform. A large portion of TikTok’s userbase are children and teenagers, and there has been a rampant problem with grooming and even predators sending inappropriate, violent and harassing messages to children on the app. According to the BBC, TikTok at the time had not even been bothered to remove these predatory users off the platform. You thought it couldn’t get any worse? According to The Washington Post, the U.S government fined the parent company of TikTok a whopping $5.7 million dollars for illegally collecting the data of children on the platform. Everything from names, locations and pictures were all being collected and stored and while TikTok may no longer be doing this, the question is why do this in the first place?

The Heavyweight Weigh-In

In what could be described as the biggest stinging blow to TikTok, As reported by Techcrunch, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman had some pretty blunt opinions regarding the app:

“Because I look at that app as so fundamentally parasitic, that it’s always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone.” Also, in a recent Forbes article, the Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point reports that TikTok has major security issues as well as a plethora of vulnerabilities and backdoors that would make it ideal for any hacker.

Banned In India

Among rising political tensions with China, India has decided to ban TikTok citing security risks. According to Techcrunch, India has banned 59 Chinese developed apps over complains and concerns from citizens alongside various other sources. Concerns were also raised about videos promoting violence and cruelty widely available on the App. While every platform is no stranger to controversial content, it is TikTok’s inefficient moderation of this type of content that has made it lose trust in the eyes of many.

In an age where companies have frequently shown a lack of commitment to guarding our data, the need for concern and action has become more essential than ever. Ask yourself, is your data being stored and sent to unknown sources really worth the silly videos and fifteen minutes of fame you may amass on TikTok? The growing hostility towards TikTok is surely taking an interesting turn so stay tuned to our blogs for all the latest updates!

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