TikTok… Time to protect yourself!

During these difficult times, we have turned to social media to stay connected to our colleagues, friends and family during ISO. TikTok and the like have assisted us and our children to be entertained, motivated and engaged as an online community. However, being on social media has not been without its challenges and privacy concerns have presented in the media recently. TikTok has been front and center bringing the topic of ‘identity profiling’ to the forefront. How we manage our digital footprint is an ongoing process and it’s important to be as well informed as possible to minimise negative impact. As a tech business, we know how important digital communication is but we want you to stay safe while you stay connected! Read on to learn what’s in the media and ways to minimise the risk…

TikTok is owned by a Beijing-based company called ByteDance and has caused global concern recently, showing that personal technology and geopolitics are becoming increasingly intertwined. The app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times and Generation Z is relying on it for inspiration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What data does TikTok gather?

Aside from every TikTok video you watch — and how long you watch it for — TikTok has the full contents of private messages you send through its app.

Its privacy policy also says it gathers your country location, Internet address and the type of device you’re using. If you give permission, it will also grab your exact location, your phone’s contacts and other social network connections, as well as your age and phone number.

That all adds up to a profile of you useful not only to target ads, but also to understand who you are, who your friends and family are, what you like, what you find funny and what you say to your friends.

What should you be aware of?

TikTok has been accused of accessing the contents of people’s iPhone clipboards every few seconds, even when the app was running in the background. TikTok said it was an anti-spam measure, and has now updated the app to stop this.

What have been the Government’s concerns about TikTok?

China’s government has a lot of power over its technology companies, and generally expects them to comply with censorship demands or efforts to track down suspected spies or dissidents. China’s government could force a sale of the company and take control of all its consequent data – and your profile information.

Does TikTok data get stored in China?

TikTok says user data is stored only in the U.S. and Singapore. However, TikTok’s privacy policy leaves a door open to responding to government requests — without specifying which governments. It reads: “We may disclose your information to respond to subpoenas, court orders, legal process, law enforcement requests, legal claims, or government inquiries.”

Is there anything you can do to reduce your privacy risk and keep using TikTok?

A TikTok privacy setting called “personalized ads” will let you stop the app from using your information to target you with ads, but it won’t stop TikTok from collecting the data in the first place.

However, when in doubt, don’t use your personal details. There’s no reason to give TikTok your real name or access to your contacts or other social media connections. Pick an alias and a throwaway email address to protect your online identity.

You can also use TikTok without giving it your phone number or email by never logging in — you can still watch videos in the app and on the open Web, though you won’t be able to follow specific accounts or upload videos of your own. And this still won’t stop TikTok from gathering other information about your device.

FURTHER TIPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PRIVACY

Please remain aware of the threats and traps to guard your digital footprint, so your privacy is always protected. Whatever your use of social media, you should know the risks that come along with it, such as:

1. The not-so-fine fine print

You should be careful when you just click “I Accept” without reading. Most of us don’t have the time to read the fine print of every website we register on, however, remain aware of current tech news as a way to limit any unnecessary shocks later down the track – such as what we’ve seen with TikTok.

2. Recommended not recommended

‘Recommended’ or ‘default’ settings does not mean it’s the safest. Remember that social media websites want to get as many people seeing, liking and sharing your content as possible. Facebook, for example, gives you three levels of visibility: public, friends and only you, as does Linkedin and other sites.

3. Location

Any public post on a social media app means your family, friends, and even complete strangers know exactly where you are, and what you are dong. Many sites now automatically attach your location to the pictures you upload or the posts you make without needing your permission.

4. Personal Information

Keep your personal information, schedules, and travel plans to yourself, or among a trusted group of people. You never know who’s watching.

5. Contests

Have you seen that you can have a FREE iPhone if you share this post, fill out a form and receive a new Playstation, win a trip to Las Vegas if you visit this site? Make sure that the contest actually exists (via a quick Google search), and make sure that the post is actually coming from the official account of a reputable company and not a scammer.

6. Romance scams

If it’s too good to be true…. Then it probably is and don’t fall for it! Scammers sometimes build their relationship and trust with their victims over many years, patiently waiting for that big payday.

7. Ads tracking

This is not technically an invasion of your privacy. However, it can be unsettling to have ads pop up all over the place, reminding you about that brand new car you were looking at on carsales.com.au. On Facebook, you can go to the Ads section under Privacy settings to disable “Ads based on my use of websites and apps”. However, not all social media sites have this functionality.

If you’d like to learn more about protecting your online privacy, please give us a call on 
1300 765 014 or via the Contact Page on our website