TikTok is a controversial piece of software by anyone’s standards. Almost instantly popular, it has been downloaded over two billion times across the globe, but that popularity has come with plenty of drawbacks. From claims that the app filters out “ugly, poor and disabled” users to racist videos from top content creators, it has been in the headlines almost since the moment it hit the internet.
However, there’s a much bigger issue with TikTok that’s gotten it banned in India—and it’s entirely possible that the United States will follow suit. If you’re using TikTok, pay attention—this social media security flaw in Phoenix, AZ could affect your personal data.
Why TikTok is banned in India
There are accusations that the popular app has been stealing users’ personal data and transmitting it unlawfully, as well as allowing members of the Chinese government to surveil the users. China denies this, but the Indian government is reacting after 20 Indian troops were killed during a clash at the border between China and India. The border issues are nothing new, but this most recent incident has caused the Indian government to ban TikTok along with 58 other Chinese apps.
Millions of users are now no longer able to use the app in India, which is predicted to contribute to a drop in its popularity—especially if other countries like Australia and the United States follow suit.
Will the United States ban TikTok too?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to ban the app in the United States as well, citing the security concerns that the company is using the app to surveil and send information to the Chinese government, as well as the potential for propagandizing. Pompeo cautions United States users to be careful, lest their personal data be “in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Does the app actually present a danger? Well, if you’re using Facebook, TikTok doesn’t take more than Facebook does—but that’s not a good thing. Facebook is notorious for mining unbelievable amounts of detail about its users, even if your account is inactive. TikTok can harvest your location data, private messages, contacts and more, just like Facebook. Recently, users discovered that it was checking the contents of iPhone users’ clipboards every few seconds, a measure the founders called an “anti-spam” tactic.
The Washington Post doesn’t think that TikTok does anything particularly shady—nor should you be especially worried about the Chinese government mining your data, as there isn’t any credible evidence so far that that’s what they’re doing—but the app can tell a lot about you. If you’re not comfortable with that, and you’ve already been considering deleting Facebook, go ahead and make it a two-for-one deal. After all, as has been famously pointed out, if you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.
Concerned about apps stealing and sharing your data in Phoenix, AZ? The team at GeekForce.biz can help you address all your security concerns—call us today to learn more.