What are the risks of using TikTok?
Privacy risks are something not enough people pay attention to nowadays.
Often referred to as online privacy awareness, it simply equates to the understanding of what happens to your data online and how it is processed.
This also calls the human right to privacy into question.
When it comes to online privacy scandals, none are worse than the social media sector.
This sector is ruled by Big Tech companies like Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook, Google, Instagram, and TikTok.
By far the most powerful and popular social media platform out there is the Chinese Bytedance-owned TikTok which has been around since 2016.
As expected, such a social media juggernaut faces colossal privacy challenges.
As such, TikTok is on a downward spiral which may even lead to it being banned in the United States, for starters.
Over the last year, an increasing number of American legislators and officials have started to voice their concerns about TikTok, both in terms of data collecting and potential connections to the Chinese government.
Some of the reasons behind this ban range from privacy-related court cases to the ‘TikTok Craze’ effect on the mental health of a country’s population, particularly of young people and minors.
What Is TikTok?
The wildly famous social media video app TikTok is a creation of the Chinese tech giant ByteDance which is not just the parent of TikTok but other companies as well.
After all, the social media sector in China has pretty much surpassed the U.S.
On TikTok, users may use a range of filters and effects to make and share short clips.
The app’s user participation is its sole driving force, and sophisticated algorithms are used to match information to your interests, pushing users to constantly interact with the app.
A film called “The Social Network” focused on this very (creepy) theme.
Despite TikTok’s enormous popularity and its hundreds of millions of monthly users worldwide, the app has also raised some questions.
Many people criticize TikTok’s probable links to the Chinese government and the volume of data it chaotically collects when it comes to privacy and security.
Again, several of the world’s renowned mental health specialists have drawn attention to TikTok’s effect on mental health.
Furthermore, almost one hundred million people use TikTok exclusively in the US as we speak.
In the United States alone, many more are anticipated to utilize TikTok by 2025, which translates to around one in three citizens on average.
The first Chinese social media app to succeed in this is TikTok, but there will certainly be others as well. However, since the app’s launch, there have been worries regarding user data and privacy, particularly given that a sizable portion of TikTok’s user base consists of teens (minors) and children (under 13).
To promote their material and interact with their fanbases, several celebrities have also joined the site, adding to the mania.
For celebrities and ‘influencers’, TikTok has been an easy way to make a profit on the side, with some making millions of dollars!
A winning combination is that the app has perfected the art of tailored content (creator content).
Most social media companies these days are trying to mimic TikTok’s method of business.
The recommendations you receive are likewise determined by AI algorithms – a new craze that has taken over the world.
The unlimited scroll further encourages you to use the program for as long as possible.
There are other issues at hand, too, even though critics have focused on how this has a detrimental impact on consumers’ attention spans.
What are the risks of using TikTok?
There are a plethora of privacy ‘red flags’ when it comes to TikTok.
For one, the app is owned by a Chinese company.
It is well-understood that companies in China are well-known to share all of the data they have (particularly on foreigners) with the ruling party of the nation, the CCP.
Furthermore, it is not just the Chinese, either.
The U.S. itself was involved in several controversial data collection scandals.
This was the case for Cambridge Analytica – possibly the biggest scandal of them all.
However, more recently, companies like YouTube, Instagram, and even Google were sent to court for improper data collection i.e. relating to minors and without their consent.
The privacy troubles also extend beyond government data collection practices.
It must be highlighted that there is a lot of political sensationalism and fear-mongering with the statements made by online communities and U.S. Senators, even while TikTok is undoubtedly not a safe app to use.
For instance, The New York Times claims that there is no proof to back up the assertion that Chinese intelligence agencies have ever collected and utilized TikTok data.
Then again, they have no reason not to.
Also, if you opt to let a third-party service access your account, TikTok indicates that it will share some information about you with the third party.
Additionally, the third-party “may be able to receive your account information and other information you choose to share, depending on the permissions you provide,” according to the policy.
So, the amount of data TikTok gathers is the app’s main issue, more so than the outright security issues.
TikTok collects an inordinate quantity of data, and its default settings grant it more access than is required, which most are unaware of and some even do not touch these settings.
TikTok also already collects data from you even if you don’t have an account (for instance if you access it from your browser).
Anonymized information about your device kind, your IP address, the material you access, and the last app you used before clicking a link are all gathered as soon as you click it.
For instance, the system will provide you suggestions based on your prior viewing history the next time you click a TikTok link.
Even without a profile, it becomes simpler to ascertain your age range, gender, and hobbies the more material you consume.
Hope it’s clear to you, what are the risks of using TikTok.
At the end of the day, it is wiser to skip TikTok and opt for another social media platform.
As tough as this may be for teens and minors, it is better for their mental health and their security and privacy!
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