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FutureStarrWhat TikTok Knows About You - From Age to Floor Level
TikTok is an immensely popular mobile application among teens and millennials, so as such it holds extensive user data.
The app gathers user-specific data such as age, location, phone number and social media contacts in order to target advertisements effectively and efficiently.
TikTok, the Chinese video app, boasts an enormous following among teens aged 14 and younger - which is great news for their company, as this audience is mostly comprised of youth. However, they need to remain mindful about who has access to their platform and the amount of control over content being posted there.
According to internal company documents reviewed by The New York Times in July, over one-third of Facebook's 49 million daily US users were classified as 14 or younger based on internal company data and documents reviewed. Furthermore, worldwide usage data indicates more than 35% under-14s using its app.
TikTok estimates ages based on self-reported dates of birth and other methods, such as facial recognition algorithms that scan profile pictures and videos, according to two former and one current TikTok employees who preferred not to be identified due to company practices being confidential. Such technologies could potentially identify children who falsify their ages in order to block them from viewing content that's inappropriate for younger viewers.
As part of its efforts to ensure its platform is safer for younger users, TikTok has implemented screen time controls. By default, all accounts under 18 years of age will be limited to 60 minutes of usage per day; teens are encouraged to set personal limits and will also receive weekly reports showing their usage time on TikTok.
Parents can set up parental controls on their child's account to restrict what they can see or interact with, including setting a minimum age, making private messages unread by default and setting screen time limits for their account.
However, it should be noted that these controls aren't foolproof - according to one recent study conducted on young users' ability to falsify their age and bypass these restrictions.
Yoti, an online identity startup, allows its users to upload a selfie or ID for age verification. Dr. Magis-Weinberg has written extensively on social media's impact on youth; while this step may help ensure authenticity, it doesn't go far enough.
It also knows your location if you have enabled location services on your phone, and claims that this information allows them to deliver videos and advertisements tailored specifically to their area.
This company also collects other types of data about you, such as browsing history on TikTok app and mobile carrier to detect scammers.
Even though you cannot control how your personal information is shared, there are steps you can take to keep it as private as possible. One such measure would be switching off location services on your phone; this will stop apps from tracking you based on GPS signals from the device.
An alternative way is to set up a private TikTok account, sharing it only with those you trust. This will make it harder for the company to discover who or what you are, though this may not provide complete anonymity for everyone.
Thirdly, consider employing a virtual private network (VPN), which can prevent companies from viewing your personal data. A VPN encrypts internet traffic for increased protection against hackers and surveillance.
However, VPN services cost money and can be difficult to set up. Plus, some users have reported issues with them in the past.
TikTok has come under scrutiny in the United States in recent months, following an allegation by Forbes that ByteDance planned to use TikTok as part of its plan to track at least two U.S. citizens without their knowledge or consent despite never working for ByteDance or having accounts on TikTok.
TikTok has responded to these allegations by denying their use in targeting U.S. government officials, activists or journalists and that its privacy policies don't permit for tracking methods described by Forbes story.
TikTok is a social video platform where you can upload short videos that can be watched multiple times. Similar to Vine and Snapchat, this provides an ideal way to share snapshots from life with family and friends.
As with other social media platforms, TikTok knows an immense amount about you - how you use its app, what content you post or search for, who follows you, phone model/screen resolution/OS version/current operating system information (including phone number/OS version/location data and keystroke patterns), your location data (including GPS coordinates if applicable), phone number(s), email addresses/phone numbers/email addresses, physical locations as well as keystroke patterns).
TikTok can monitor what you write in messages sent to others and can actively collect this data - though how it does so remains unknown.
Parents can limit their children's use of an app by setting time limits and restricting certain subject matter from viewing, blocking DMs and selecting who can view their videos of interest. To keep kids safe online, parents should implement safeguards into any online activity their children engage in - be it gaming, social networking or watching videos online.
One of the most distressing aspects of TikTok is its prevalence among underage users, particularly girls. Although TikTok has never officially banned anyone for being underage, moderators regularly look out for accounts belonging to such users using text analytics tools that detect keywords such as age written into bios or profiles.
Even with these safeguards in place, an increasing number of young kids are dying after engaging in challenges on TikTok. According to an article in December 2017 in The New York Times, at least eight suicides could be linked back to TikTok but police didn't connect any deaths directly; other fatalities may have gone unreported.
TikTok has made efforts to enhance its detection systems amid an alarming rate of child suicides, meeting with at least two providers of facial age estimation software that can tell apart between children and teenagers, according to three people with knowledge of such discussions.
One major concern surrounding the app's growing popularity is cyberbullying by trolls who can build followings by posting videos featuring underage users with profanity, violence or sexually suggestive content - some even including profane language and sexually suggestive imagery.
TikTok knows a lot about you, collecting data in all the same ways other social media companies do. From your name and age to public profile information and location data. TikTok even knows which device type, operating system type and connected devices you're using - including any devices used simultaneously on another account.
Apart from all that, it also gathers biometric information such as your faceprint and voiceprint for no obvious reason - likely needed for uploading videos from devices or integrating with other apps.
As a new user, you will create an account using your birthdate, with full control over its privacy or publicness at any time. Children under 13 years of age are automatically placed into TikTok for Younger Users for viewing with extra protections in place for privacy and safety.
As with other social media apps, TikTok uses your activity on the app to understand who you are and your interests. This means tracking which topics you watch, "heart", and accounts you follow before combining that data with information such as gender, age and interests - providing it all an interesting picture of who is using TikTok and what interests them.
As soon as your app connects with Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts, it makes informed guesses as to the kind of content and ads that may interest you based on what has already been seen and from other parts of the internet. This process includes both your app usage history as well as data gathered through other sources on these networks - Facebook, Instagram and YouTube being examples.
TikTok allows users to shape how its algorithm sees them by selecting from among various ad topics - including those for babies & kids, education and household products.
As with other social media apps, TikTok allows users to gain insight into what data it knows about them through its privacy policies. These can be found under Settings and Privacy in the top right of its main screen and are easy to read; once familiarized, you can take steps to stop TikTok collecting personal data about you in future by blocking certain ads.