Thursday, June 20News For London

TikTok: Should Brits delete accounts?

Image Credit: Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

TikTok has quickly become a key driver of trends and pop culture. With an immense entertainment value and growing influence, the app has been a cause for concern over the years. Now, once more, TikTok is in the headlines due to concerns over their collection and use of personal data.

Video credit: Zuzana Revayova

What is TikTok doing?

When it first came onto the scene in 2017, TikTok was used by only 1.8% of UK’s smartphones. Since then the app has boomed worldwide. Now, over one billion people use the viral app. TikTok is in the headlines once again due to concerns over their collection and use of personal data.

 It is seen as a potential security risk for hostile threats. How can dancing teenagers and celebrities pose such a big threat? 

What information do they collect?

TikTok tracks your location, IP address, private messages on the app, search history and what content you consume. Is this any different to the other mainstream social media?

Well, most social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat collect a large amount of personal data too. We don’t even have to look far to find an example of a data breach. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is still fresh in our memories.

Why is TikTok different?

Some would argue that it isn’t. Others point out that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. This of course means that they have to abide the Chinese law. Meaning that they can be required and even forced to hand over personal data they collect to the Chinese government.

While TikTok officials say that they have never handed any data over to their government, China makes it no secret that they are collecting information and data from the West as seen with the recent spy balloon incident.

TikTok in the US

Dozens of universities in the US have banned the app following an incident where journalists were being tracked by ByteDance employees in an effort to find their sources. The app is also banned from all US governmental devices.

The prospect of a national ban is being considered in the land of the free, while some countries like India have banned the app in 2020 in response to a political dispute.