A new study of social-media data collection and tracking found TikTok to be significantly more aggressive than other popular apps.
- Malcore, a malware analysis tool website, says that TikTok is one of the most aggressive social-media apps available regarding how much data it pulls from your device.
- In a recent study of social-media data collection, the short-form video app owned by the Chinese ByteDance corporation tracked twice as much information as other prominent social media apps.
- TikTok tracks internet network information, SIM serial numbers, device serial numbers, phone numbers, GPS location, subscription information, and password managers. The app also has nine known data trackers.
- The only other app with a similar data score to TikTok is VK, a Russia-exclusive app that cannot be accessed without a Russian phone number. WhatsApp scores higher than other apps too.
- Zoom, Discord, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger ranked among the lowest in data-collection risk but still drew device data.
Why It’s News
The TikTok app has become highly contentious since the Trump administration called for the app to be banned in 2020. While President Joe Biden briefly rescinded orders against ByteDance’s highly successful app, renewed concerns in the past year have once again brought criticism against the app, with allegations that ByteDance is allowing the app to funnel American data to the Chinese Communist Party.
The U.S. government has considered banning the app on all government devices or entirely banning the app in the country. The Canadian government announced a government device ban on Monday, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing the move was necessary for protecting the security of federal officials’ devices.
ByteDance has repeatedly considered options to keep the TikTok app in line with U.S. concerns about data harvesting and over-use by children. As of Wednesday, the app is imposing a 60-minute time limit for users under the age of 18, as concerns about its addictive nature compound and new calls for the app’s banning mount.
“The TikTok app is not unique in the amount of information it collects, which is less than many popular mobile apps. In line with industry practices, we collect information that users choose to provide to us and information that helps the app function, operate securely, and improve the user experience,” says ByteDance.
“In our opinion, this controlled experiment, where we conduct the exact same analysis and scoring system across the industry, reinforces our 2022 report’s conclusions as they are more than double the industry average at 63.1,” says Malcore.