The CEO of TikTokthe most downloaded app in 2022, has appeared before the US Congress to discuss the platform’s data security and privacy practices. ESETa leader in proactive threat detection, reflects on the personal information TikTok and other social media giants collect about us.
“Tik Tok, has been embroiled in controversy over a series of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including allegations surrounding the excessive collection of user data and its sharing with the Chinese government, harmful influence on children and their mental health, and personal data leaks. While most of these concerns aren’t really unique to TikTok, no other social network is receiving as much scrutiny as the hit video app. This is not just because TikTok is often said to collect more information from users than the industry average and use a more powerful recommendation algorithm than the other platforms, but especially because many believe the app poses risks to people’s lives. national securityl”, says Roman Cuprik, ESET Content Writer.
How to protect your own data and that of children who use TikTok
What data does TikTok collect?
According to a report Internet 2.0, TikTok requests excessive permissions on the device and collects excessive amounts of data, much more than is necessary for its operation. For example, the app collects data about all the apps that are installed on the phone, detailed information about the Android operating system, and requires access to the phone’s contacts.
“For the TikTok application to work correctly, most of the accesses and the data it collects from the device are not necessarysaid Thomas Perkins, an engineer and head of Internet 2.0 security. “The app can and will run successfully without collecting any of this data. This leads one to believe that the only reason this information has been collected is for data collection.”.
At the same time, the company receives the approximate location of your device’s GPS data, even when the location service is turned off. It also collects transaction and purchase history, according to the Internet 2.0 report.
Chew responded to these accusations by saying that current versions of the app do not collect precise or approximate GPS information from US users. He also denied sharing data with the Chinese government. “TikTok, as a United States company incorporated in the United States, is subject to the laws of the United States“, HE read in his statement of March 23. “TikTok has never shared or received a request to share US user data with the Chinese government. TikTok would also not honor such a request if it were ever made.”.
How can (part of) privacy be protected while using TikTok?
If you want to view content on TikTok while sharing as little data as possible, it is recommended to use the official TikTok website in a web browser. Remember that TikTok may still collect certain information using the browser cookies and other trackers.
How to protect the little ones on TikTok?
Like other social networks, TikTok strives to protect children from exposure to harmful content, bullying, self-harm, eating disorders, or other risks lurking online.
For example, recent research conducted in Italy among 78 patients with eating disorders found that viewing content on TikTok caused a drop in self-esteem in 59% of them, and 27% reported significant changes in their daily life related to TikTok. For almost 63 percent of all patients surveyed, TikTok was the main social network. On top of that, the US Department of Homeland Security has also launched an investigation into allegations that TikTok isn’t doing enough to combat child sexual abuse material, the report reported. Financial Times in April 2022.
Chew said that TikTok constantly scans content for signs of potential abusive behavior. It also removes content that promotes bullying, hate speech, eating disorders, and violent extremism. “Each and every video uploaded to TikTok goes through automatic moderation, and potentially infringing content is automatically removed or escalated for review by one of our expert moderators who have received specialized training to spot signs of grooming or harassed behaviorr,” Chew wrote.
To deal with child protection issues, TikTok introduced a feature called Family Pairing in 2020. According to ESET, the tool It gives mothers, fathers and guardians a certain degree of control and supervision over the accounts of the little ones. A guardian can link their TikTok account to the child’s and set parental controls, including daily screen time, restricted exposure to some content, child search options, and visibility to others.
During the ongoing debate about the future of TikTok in the United States, the social platform announced new tools for parents on March 1, 2023. Parents and guardians will be able to choose different time limits depending on the day of the week and set a time to silence notifications. TikTok also announced a screen time dashboard for Family Pairing, which provides summaries of time in the app, the number of times TikTok was opened, and a breakdown of total time spent throughout the day and night.
ESET invites you to know digiparents, its initiative aligned with safer kids online, which seeks to accompany mothers, fathers, tutors and teachers in the care of children on the Internet in order to raise awareness about risks and threats in the digital world. In this space, materials are provided for the learning, dialogue and supervision process in order to provide the necessary knowledge to help the little ones in the use of new technologies.
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