As an investigator of internet crimes against children, I have been using TikTok and researching it for over two years. When TikTok initially came out, there were no safety concerns with the app. My friends started asking me if there was anything dangerous about the app beyond their children using it. After doing some research, I found reports that there were issues due to their collection of data from the Chinese app. I later found out this was merely a distraction from the international trade issues. TikTok finally stated they stored the data separately by having servers in both the United States and in China. This gave me relief that the app was safe, until recently.
There was a video circulating about a researcher who reverse-engineered the type of data mining that TikTok was doing. He found that once the app is installed on the device and you accept the terms and conditions, they are violating those terms by collecting additional data including GPS location, text messages, photos, other app data, and potentially malware – giving them access to your microphone and video. Even if you have the app installed, but have not created an account, they can still collect your information. It is hard to determine what information TikTok is actually collecting. While we may believe that we have “nothing to hide” or “nothing that they want,” we do not know the full extent of the information they are collecting, especially when it comes to our kids.
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The mission of the Safe Surfin’ Foundation is not only to protect youth from those who would do them harm, but pro-actively educating them in the safe and responsible use of today’s ever-changing technology. Together, we’re improving and saving lives. Help us continue educating kids online by donating today.