3 Things You Need to Know About TikTok’s Frightening Fine Print

TikTok’s popularity continues to rise however concerns about their terms of service are also rising. Here’s everything you need to know.

TikTok's terms of service

TikTok has swiftly become one of the most popular social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly active users. Although its popularity has risen, there are a few users that are becoming wary of the app’s invasive terms of service. The terms of service, which are believed to be updated as and when needed without informing users, include the permission to collect private data while users are scrolling through the app. Agreeing to these terms means that you’re allowing TikTok to mine your personal data like your IP address, device system, file names and even your keystroke rhythms and patterns.

So what do you need to know about the kind of information TikTok is harvesting from users? Read on to learn more.

TikTok’s invasive terms of service could be dangerous

Every app has terms and conditions that users must agree to when they download and start using the app. However, the data privacy around TikTok’s collection and use of personal information has raised some flags. Here are 3 risks that you should be aware of when agreeing to the terms of services while using the app.

  • TikTok collects personal data 

TikTok spends a lot of time getting to know you. While using the app, it collects specific data about each user. This not only includes how long you use the app for, and the type of content you consume, but also your precise GPS data as well as browser and search history. While most apps collect user data, the issue with TikTok arises because there seems to be a gap between what users are made aware of in the terms of services and what the company uses the data for and who has access to the data they collect.

Not every user will take the time to go through each of the 12 pages of terms and conditions on the app, which makes it easy for the company to include terms without users being aware.

  • TikTok potentially uses keystroke logging

Keystroke logging is when a website or app tracks patterns and rhythms of what users type into their devices. This can be potentially dangerous because apps can monitor everything you type and then collect data such as usernames, passwords and even credit card information. TikTok also has the capability to mine data from your other devices so it’s not just the device you use for the app that is at risk.

TikTok collects keystroke patterns

However, TikTok has mentioned it’s not the only company swallowing big amounts of personal data and that not all data is necessarily collected or stored.

  • TikTok collects biometric data

One of the most concerning terms of service is that TikTok can collect biometric identifiers and biometric information. This means that the app can read faceprints and voiceprints. The company hasn’t confirmed what the data will be used for and how exactly they collect it but experts have mentioned that the app can read facial expressions so if a user is watching a video and is shocked, the app will pick up those expressions. This is likely to monitor the type of content specific users react to so the app can continue to feed them with related content.

TikTok reads facial expressions

Can you still protect your privacy?

Without much knowledge, users may not be able to make an informed decision when accepting terms and conditions before using an app. This could lead to them being left vulnerable to a cyber attack or giving up personal data that they are unaware of being collected and stored. The main concern with TikTok is that the company can change their terms and conditions without informing their users.

If you choose to continue using TikTok, there are ways to protect your data and privacy. You can use a virtual private network (VPN) when browsing the app so your IP address will be hidden. You can also opt to anonymise yourself by using an anonymous email address when signing up and not include personally identifiable information wherever you can.

Overall, it’s important to be cautious about what data you provide TikTok, and other apps, with. This way you can still enjoy using the app, or even using it for social media marketing purposes, but minimise the associated risks.

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