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You Should Stop Using TikTok, Here’s Why

TikTok, a popular mobile app and video-sharing social network presents a major security risk for its users. The European Data Protection Board has established a task force to review TikTok’s personal data processing principles and procedures. There is evidence suggesting that the private data of millions of users is being channelled directly to China.

In recent weeks, TikTok has been banned in India, a ban has become a possibility in the USA, and an investigation into the platform has started in the EU. How much of this is just an ongoing trade war and how much is the sign of a real problem?

In the last few years, TikTok, a platform developed and owned by the Chinese ByteDance, has become a tool popular especially with the younger generation. Over two billion users from around the world have downloaded the app, and TikTok’s sharp rise has shocked traditional social networks and apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat. TikTok’s post format (short funny or entertaining videos) makes it especially attractive for children. 

The widespread use of the app by children has been at the centre of several scandals since the platform is often targeted by sexual predators. But the real problem with TikTok runs much deeper. Naturally, other companies also collect data under strange circumstances: American companies such as Facebook and Google have built their business models around selling data and creating personal profiles. Based on this, Shoshana Zuboff, economist and IT expert, even labelled the last decade “the age of surveillance capitalism”. It also must be said that if an American security agency requests information from these companies, they cannot really resist.

So, what makes TikTok different and why should you be even more wary about using it?

1) The amount of user information and data collected by TikTok is much higher than for other social networks.


Software engineers who attempted to reverse engineer the app stated that Tiktok tries to make it as hard as possible for its users to find which data the app collects from their devices. 

The data collected by TikTok includes:

•           Hardware data (CPU type, hardware ID, disk space, memory usage…)

•           Data on other apps you have installed (including deleted ones)

•           Network-related information (device and router IP and MAC addresses, WiFi access point)

•           Whether or not the device is rooted

•           Regular GPS pings


Some users also described another problem: the unauthorized sending of data from their devices. They found out TikTok was sending biometric data from their videos to Chinese servers, even before they had shared or saved the video. This data also includes your face.

2) TikTok vs. data protection

In general, the EU market is definitely the strictest one when it comes to personal data protection. It is therefore no wonder that it has started investigating TikTok’s data processing practices. The matter is all the more complicated, because TikTok actively targets young users. What seems as good fun at 13 can become a pile of data that will remain relevant and usable when they’re 40.

The United States have already fined ByteDance 5.7 million dollars for its data collection practices related to its child users, and a full ban on the application is currently being considered. India has also referred to data protection, banning the app for sending data to China. However, India has banned not only TikTok, but also a number of other applications, as part of its conflict with China.

3) The Communist Party of China

Yes, other social networks process your personal data as well, often in quite monstrous ways. That is a problem that we are trying to tackle. Other companies also collaborate for example with American security agencies whose scandals are well known thanks to people like Edward Snowden. But China still remains a whole different rank of player. A totalitarian country with no democratic controls, engaged in long-running ethnic cleansing campaigns, with its social credit system and mass facial recognition on the street is a particularly bad owner of your data, faces or funny videos.

What can we do?

As Pirates, we believe that the best path lies in informed choice. If you want to keep using TikTok after you’ve read this article, it’s your decision, but we’ll appreciate it if you share this information.

If you decide to get rid of TikTok, we’ve made a simple instruction video for you. And like any good TikTok video, it’s under a minute. 🙂

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