TikTok’s Data Collection Practices: What You Need to Know

TikTok’s Data Collection Practices: What You Need to Know

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TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps in the world. It has gained a massive following of users, including those who do not have accounts with the app. Consumer Reports conducted an investigation into the company’s data collection practices, revealing that TikTok partners with other companies to track people’s data as they browse the internet. In this article, we will explore the findings of the investigation and provide you with some tips to protect your personal information.

TikTok’s Data Collection Practices: What’s Happening?


TikTok embeds tiny trackers called “pixels” on partner websites to collect user data. The app uses this information to help companies target potential customers with ads and measure the effectiveness of their ads. The investigation found that TikTok tracks users’ data, even if they do not have a TikTok account. The investigation also discovered that hundreds of organizations share data with TikTok, including the United Methodist Church, Weight Watchers, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, and Planned Parenthood.

Disconnect, a security firm, scanned 20,000 websites for TikTok’s pixels, including the 1,000 most popular websites and some of the biggest sites with domains ending in “.org,” “.edu,” and “.gov.” After a broad search, Disconnect researchers analyzed 15 specific websites to see what kind of data was being shared. The research found that data being transmitted to TikTok can include your IP address, a unique ID number, what page you’re on, and what you’re clicking, typing, or searching for, depending on how the website has been set up.

TikTok’s Response: What Are They Saying?

Melanie Bosselait, a TikTok spokesperson, says that the data TikTok receives from advertisers is used to improve the effectiveness of their advertising services. The data is not used to group individuals into particular interest categories for other advertisers to target. If TikTok receives data about someone who doesn’t have a TikTok account, the company only uses that data for aggregated reports that they send to advertisers about their websites. However, there’s no independent way for consumers or privacy researchers to verify such statements.

How to Protect Your Personal Information:
Consumer Reports recommends using privacy-protecting browser extensions like Disconnect, changing your browser’s privacy settings to block trackers, and trying a more private browser like Firefox and Brave.

Conclusion

TikTok’s data collection practices have come under scrutiny, and the investigation conducted by Consumer Reports revealed that the app tracks users’ data, even if they do not have an account with TikTok. As the company’s advertising business grows, the data collection is likely to increase. Protecting your personal information is essential, and Consumer Reports recommends using privacy-protecting browser extensions, changing your browser’s privacy settings, and trying a more private browser to safeguard your data.

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