Saturday, 22 Jun 2024
Technology

All the ways TikTok tracks you and how to protect your privacy

TikTok

In August 2018, Chinese company ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and merged it with another app, giving birth to TikTok. Today, TikTok boasts over one billion users, surpassing the combined user base of Snapchat and Twitter. Its success, however, has attracted regulatory scrutiny and questions regarding user privacy.

What information TikTok collects about you

TikTok gathers data through cookies and other tracking methods, even if you’re not signed up. Once you create an account, the app collects information about your activities and preferences based on the videos you watch. This includes your device, location, IP address, search history, message content, and viewing duration. TikTok also tracks your interactions with advertisers through device identifiers. Additionally, TikTok can infer details such as age range, gender, and interests from the data it has about you. In the United States, TikTok can even collect biometric information like face and voiceprints.

According to Morgan Wright, the chief security advisor at SentinelOne, this data is highly valuable to TikTok and its advertisers. By understanding your preferences and engagement, TikTok can deliver tailored ads more effectively than other platforms.

How TikTok tracks you

TikTok’s privacy policy is transparent about the data it collects. When signing up, TikTok asks for your email address, phone number, and date of birth. It also collects the content you create, even if you don’t upload or save it, along with associated metadata. If you use Facebook to sign in, some information may be shared with the social network. Additionally, TikTok can access text, images, and videos from your device’s clipboard if you copy and paste content or share it with a third-party platform.

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Protecting your privacy on TikTok

With growing concerns about privacy, users may want to limit TikTok’s access to their data. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Review your privacy settings: Open the app’s settings and navigate to the Privacy and Safety section. Here, you can manage who can see your content, control the visibility of your profile, and limit interactions from other users.

  2. Manage targeted ads: TikTok allows you to control the types of ads shown to you. In the settings, find the Ad Preferences section, where you can adjust your preferences or opt out of personalized ads altogether.

  3. Limit data collection: While TikTok collects various types of data, you can reduce its access. On your device, go to the app settings, find TikTok, and review the permissions granted. Disable any unnecessary permissions to restrict data collection.

  4. Use a VPN: Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet connection and mask your IP address. This can help prevent TikTok and other apps from tracking your online activities.

  5. Regularly review permissions: Keep an eye on the permissions granted to TikTok and other apps you use. Periodically review and revoke permissions that are no longer necessary.

TikTok Privacy Settings

By implementing these steps, you can take more control over your privacy while using TikTok.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can TikTok access my personal messages?

A: TikTok can collect the content of your messages on the platform. Be mindful of what you share, as it may be used for ad targeting and other purposes.

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Q: Does TikTok sell my data to third parties?

A: While TikTok may share your data with third-party service providers for advertising purposes, it asserts not to sell user data directly.

Q: Is TikTok safe for children?

A: TikTok has implemented measures to protect younger users, including a kids-only mode and default private profiles for users under 16. Parents should still monitor their children’s activities on the platform.

Conclusion

As TikTok continues to thrive globally, it’s crucial to understand the data it collects and how it tracks user activity. By being aware of your privacy settings, managing ad preferences, and limiting data collection, you can enjoy TikTok while safeguarding your personal information. Stay informed and take control of your digital privacy.

Visit the Eireview website for more insights on technology trends and digital privacy.