The Trump administration is forcing TikTok to sell off its US business by September 15 or else face a ban, accusing it of posing a privacy and national security threat because it is owned by a Chinese company.
The administration has explicitly claimed TikTok spies on people but has never offered public evidence.
Experts diving through TikTok’s code and policies say the app collects user data in a similar way to Facebook and other popular social apps.
Google and Facebook by comparison almost certainly hoover up more user data than TikTok through their sprawling number of apps and services — but get less US political scrutiny on privacy.
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TikTok, the video-sharing app whose meteoric rise amongst teenage users has made it a challenger to the likes of Facebook, is under siege in the US thanks to its Chinese roots.
After months of sustained political pressure from lawmakers and President Trump, TikTok’s parent firm ByteDance is now in talks with Microsoft (and reportedly other US bidders) to sell its US business.
And in the background, the Trump administration has threatened to ban TikTok altogether, has run ads claiming it spies on people, and also demanded that the US Treasury get a big cut of any sale of the app.
The spying claims have hit home for some high-profile users, with online gaming megastar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins announcing he was deleting the app in July over privacy concerns.
But is TikTok actually any worse for snooping in your personal data than social media platforms like Facebook and Google?
According to the experts, evidence suggests the answer is no.
In terms of the data TikTok says it sucks up, it doesn’t appear to be any worse than Facebook
“Basically they are saying that they are using your usage data, behavior data, preferences, friends, contacts, to provide you with their service, to customize the service, and of course to do targeted advertising […] this is exactly what Facebook is doing and Instagram is doing too,” said Vilain.
Vilain pointed out that the main difference between TikTok and Facebook or Instagram is in the kind of data users are routinely plugging into the app, as TikTok relies on video. “I think the main difference is that people are recording themselves and this is being recorded,” she said.
There’s also the fact TikTok is popular with younger folks.
“Also it’s mainly used by teenagers, who are maybe less aware and less concerned about what they are sharing,” Vilain said.
The FTC fined TikTok $5.7 million in February 2019 for inadequately protecting the privacy of its underage users, and on July 7 the agency announced it was looking into allegations that the company continues to violate children’s privacy on the …read more
Source:: Business Insider