A Breakdown of the Data TikTok Collects on American Users


Level 5
Thread author
Aug 19, 2022
Users of this forum already know these findings, but it's good to re-iterate that nothing has changed in months.

TikTok has come under renewed scrutiny over how it handles U.S. data, with some lawmakers calling for an investigation into the Culver City-based company.

What kind of data does TikTok collect? And should we worry about a potential national security threat when Americans’ data is accessed by employees of ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company?

To answer these questions, dot.LA reviewed TikTok’s privacy policy and interviewed Thomas Germain, a technology writer for Consumer Reports who specializes in privacy issues.

What Data TikTok Collects​

Like other social media giants, TikTok gobbles up a lot of user information. To start, TikTok receives names, ages, phone numbers and emails when people sign up for the service. The app also knows users’ approximate locations and mobile device identifiers, such as IP addresses.

Germain told dot.LA the most valuable info may come from the way users interact with the video sharing app. TikTok is quite good at figuring out peoples’ interests based on the videos or accounts they’ve previously liked or followed. Those insights are useful for advertisers and—potentially—for spreading political messages, Germain noted.

“This vast trove of data that every social media company has—on what people are interested in, what makes them upset, what makes them happy—is incredibly valuable,” he said.

The company’s privacy policy permits TikTok to collect a wide range of additional data, from consumers’ keystroke patterns to biometric info. However, the company says it doesn’t necessarily take in or store all of this. For example, keystroke patterns may be used solely for anti-fraud and spam purposes, according to TikTok. Regarding biometrics, TikTok said editing features may automatically locate a person’s face to apply an effect, but those features do not uniquely identify individuals.
Personal Input: What is even worse that even with the current DOD guidance that forbids installation of TickTock on government furnished equipment; I know many DoD members both MIL, Civilian and Contractors that are using TickTock on their personal electronic devices whilst on base or training.

But then again the former President of the United States took his cell phone into a SCIF so he could take a picture....so go figure.
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