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With more than 2 billion downloads around the world, TikTok is wildly popular. The short video app is hip, fun and addictive. But is it safe?
Let’s take a look at the way TikTok operates and the security concerns.
How does TikTok work?
TikTok is a free social media platform allowing users to watch, create and share videos — often with a music soundtrack — right from their phones. On TikTok, it only takes 15 seconds to become a star.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese tech company, ByteDance.
What are the safety concerns with TikTok?
Like all social media platforms, TikTok encourages users to share slivers of their personal life. The app also captures user data by tracking likes, dislikes, friends, consumer patterns, locations and more. While other major platforms do the same, TikTok is the first Chinese-owned app to gain such broad popularity in the United States, raising new privacy concerns for users.
There have been some claims that TikTok is a cover for Chinese spyware that steals users’ information and sends it back to China, but these allegations have been mostly unfounded.
Another concern is the app’s occasional release of new software with security vulnerabilities needing to be urgently fixed. While they’ve all been patched quickly, the small window of time between the release of the software and the security patch-up can pose a serious risk to TikTok users.
Will TikTok be banned in the U.S.?
On Aug. 6, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok in the United States. Trump is pressuring ByteDance to sell the app to an American company before the ban goes into effect on Sept. 15. Microsoft is currently under negotiations with ByteDance to purchase 30% of the app, but the administration is pushing for complete ownership by an American company. As the deadline for a deal approaches, TikTok continues to insist that its platform is secure.
Should users delete the app?
There’s no black-and-white answer to this loaded question, but you may want to delete the app just to be on the safe side.
If you decide to keep TikTok, be sure to exercise caution. Keep all potentially vulnerable information off the videos you share and keep the app’s settings to private.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”