TikTok Privacy and Security - Is TikTok Safe to Use?
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Introduction to TikTok Security
TikTok has been a sensation for the past couple of years, and its unique format has given people a new platform to explore. In terms of privacy and security, it is not different from other social media like Facebook or Instagram. Since TikTok Security measures are quite comprehensive, using the app is secure for your device, and even payment methods are primarily protected. However, there are quite a few causes of concern about the app.
How Safe is TikTok?
As we mentioned, TikTok is safe in specific ways and will subtly violate your privacy (and maybe even security) in other ways. So is TikTok secure?
Since it is a popular app and they ensure the latest security measures are embedded into its interface, there is a meager chance that you will have malware on your system because of TikTok use. If we look at it through the lens of malicious technical activity, you are likely safe from it when you use TikTok.
However, TikTok's privacy and security measures are not enough to protect your data from malicious users and bots on the website. Trolling is a common phenomenon on websites like TikTok, and most creators on the website often fall prey to it at some point. While trolling does not usually have any physical or real-life consequences, it can weigh greatly on the mental health of the individuals on the platform.
Other than that, the younger population is the target audience for TikTok. Yes, it has creators of all ages, but even when it initially began, the people most intrigued by the app were children and teenagers. While there are child security settings available on TikTok which parents can use, this does not mean that the children are entirely safe. Many children can still come in contact with inappropriate, mature, or disturbing content that can warp their mindsets. So constant usage of the app can be especially harmful to children.
We can also not disregard that TikTok is an addictive social media website, much like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and others. So, before you know it, you can spend your entire day scrolling through videos on the platform. And while this could be a safe experience for people as well, the longer you spend on this website, the more vulnerable you are to threats looming in the background.
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Common TikTok Scams
Along with general TikTok security and privacy concerns, there are also genuine scams on the website. Seasoned users and internet aficionados can detect these scams and ensure they do not fall prey to them, but many people on the platform are still vulnerable. This includes older adults who are enticed by flashy messages and children who are endlessly curious about what they can achieve by responding to something or clicking something else. So here are some of the most common TikTok scams that a person can fall prey to
Getting money or other high-value rewards such as the latest iPad is something many people are on the lookout for. TikTok scammers use this need in people and trap them in their schemes. Most of us have seen videos on TikTok and other social media platforms where an individual offers you large rewards for minimal effort, usually liking or sharing a post or an account.
Remember that it is probably too good to be true if you come across a post like this. Many scammers also entice users by showing multiple boxes of iPhones and large stacks of cash that they are just about to give away randomly. This adds to a feeling of authenticity, but the scam remains a scam.
One good thing about TikTok security is that they don’t really allow these scams, which is why the entire site is not riddled with them. But many still pass by the TikTok security checks and filters and aim to scam the audience viewing their content.
Catfishing is an age-old online scam that has successfully penetrated every social media application, and TikTok is no different. People on TikTok can pretend to be a member of your preferred gender and sexual orientation and try to entice you into a romantic scam. Many times the messages they send and the promises they make are too good to be true, and that is precisely the case.
The catfishers use manipulation tactics to get money from the people they are supposedly ''in love" with. And this is usually the case, so remember that if someone you don't know and have never met is asking you for money, understand that there is some shady business underway. Catfishers sometimes don't even ask for money. They do what they do to troll the person on the other end, which psychologically impacts the individual once the scam is revealed.
Remember that many catfishers scam people in a similar way over and over again. You can perform a Google Search and determine whether you are being scammed.
Bots on TikTok usually aim to direct you to malicious or scam websites. However, most bots must be more sophisticated to mimic humans without being caught. Many bots will interact with you just enough to redirect you to a different website or get some sensitive information out of you. If you are interacting with a stranger on TikTok who is making awkward demands or isn't speaking the way any human would, you should stop communicating with them immediately.
Crypto scams are the newest in the market, and many people are at risk of falling for them. This is because many people don't completely understand how cryptocurrencies work, and they have heard stories of people becoming billionaires overnight with the help of crypto trading. So they believe that the person in their DMs on TikTok is also trying to help them become billionaires instead of scamming them out of their own money.
But remember, every time you see a promise of quick and easy money, it is most likely a scam. Do not surrender your finances to a space that you do not understand.
All social media websites are riddled with fake accounts. People often impersonate celebrities and other influential people on TikTok to gain more followers. Many impersonators have clear indicators that indicate they are fake such as bad grammar, unconvincing and low-quality content, and promoting well-known scams, etc. However, many impersonators are more experienced and can convince vulnerable users that they are who they claim to be.
Many fake accounts promote scams such as cryptocurrency and NFTs; others even offer easy money and giveaways.
Manipulative Adult Content
Scam adult content is prevalent all over the internet and threatens TikTok's privacy and security as we know it. This content often shows enticing and seductive images and videos that promote scams and malicious websites. Much of the adult content on TikTok and other such websites also aims to get money for more similar content and ends up stealing money from people in the process.
While TikTok can often catch many of these scams, many others go completely unnoticed by TikTok security measures and end up scamming the users on the website.
TikTok has a marketplace that has been quite lucrative for the business. But it has added another method of TikTok security breaching to the website by fooling people. This includes the promotion of fake businesses that offer bogus products and services, often marketed as authentic and necessary. People fall for these scams because many products and services are offered at significantly reduced prices than what the real thing is worth.
The easiest way to avoid this scam is by cross-checking the price of an item sold with similar products available in the market. If the price is ridiculously different from the other products and services in the market, then you best believe it is an attempt to scam you.
Phishing consists of email scams, so you cannot experience phishing over TikTok, the app. However, you can receive an email posing to be from TikTok in your inbox. The email could be offering you rewards, a badge, more followers, or anything similar in a guise to get your account’s credentials from you. If you click on the email and comply with its demands, you will be handing over the controls of your account to someone who likely has malicious intentions with it.
Is The Information You Share on TikTok Private?
TikTok privacy has been one of the biggest concerns about the website to date. This is a huge issue with all social media websites, including Facebook and Instagram. And no, the information you share on TikTok is not private.
Of course, this does not mean that it is being displayed to the whole world at all times, but it does mean that TikTok and even some third parties affiliated with the website can use this information as they wish. And this makes many of us wonder: Is TikTok a threat?
TikTok isn't a threat directly. It collects information, but it has to do so to offer its users an experience curated to their needs and what they want to see online. For example, suppose you are an artist on TikTok and only post art-related content and want to view other artists on TikTok. In that case, TikTok needs to collect your information to provide you with that experience. If you are an artist and TikTok has yet to learn what you want to see on the app, you will not be that compelled to use the app. So while TikTok's security and privacy concerns are brought forth because of data collection, it does help to engineer a more fulfilling experience for the users on the app.
The information that TikTok collects and uses includes the following:
- General information includes your phone number, profile photo, email address, and age.
- Photos and videos you upload to the website
- Anything you search for on the platform
- Anything you search for on other social media or search engines
- Your location
- Patterns of keystrokes, which can tell the app what you are typing
- Any information TikTok can find from other accounts you have linked to it, such as your Gmail account.
While it is concerning, we can understand TikTok privacy breaches to provide us with a better experience on the app. However, there has been evidence and reports of TikTok using the information it has on you against you.
One report by Business Insider discusses how the TikTok algorithm is set to censor content by users who are disabled, overweight, or unattractive by general standards. The app also automatically bans users who criticize the government through their posts on the platform. So is TikTok secure, and can we treat it as a free speech platform? No, we cannot.
If you still want to use TikTok, it is best to practice caution and ensure that you do not post anything sensitive that can be used against you. And if the algorithm and the content you view on TikTok negatively affect your mental health, you can always choose not to use the app or try to create a more wholesome experience.
How Dangerous Is TikTok Usage?
Interconnectivity has been a double-edged sword. There is a lot that has improved in the world, but the dangers of social media are still valid and lurking. Here are some of the dangers associated with TikTok use and addiction:
Affects Mental Health
TikTok, like most other social media, is a highly addictive platform. People can often spend their entire day just scrolling through the website, trying to appease themselves somehow. However, the lens we see people through on TikTok is not necessarily how their lives are real. But the distortion does affect our mental health and makes many of us unsatisfied with what we have.
Other than that, creators on TikTok come across online trolls and bullies. Every creator aspires to get a good following, but the more significant the following, the greater your chances of encountering trolls and bullies. And while they may be easy to ignore at first, it gets increasingly difficult as time goes on, and people ultimately become anxious about what they post. Many content creators also tie their mental health to the number of likes and followers they have, which is not a great place to be.
TikTok Security Concerns
TikTok security and privacy concerns have been at the forefront of many organizations since their advent. The US Department of Defense made their military personnel remove the app from their phones, as did the Wells Fargo Bank. Even Amazon once sent a similar email to their employees but later took the request back, saying that the email was 'sent in error.'
Discussions around the app often focus on how it may be forced to share information with the Chinese government, even though TikTok denied these claims.
Other than that, the lack of Multifactor Authentication further questions the integrity of the app and makes it difficult for people to trust it completely.
Young and Impressionable Users
TikTok privacy settings make the experience more holistic for young users, but we are not sure how much these settings can protect young users from viewing inappropriate content.
Children can come into contact with strangers with ill intentions and learn to switch off security and safety settings on their own. Parents need to limit the time their children spend on the app and try to monitor their activity as well.
The privacy settings for children and teenagers on the app are very different from those of adults. Parents need to ensure that the app's relevant privacy settings are enabled to make the experience as safe for children as possible.
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What Happens If We Delete TikTok?
Many of you must wonder if all the Tiktok Privacy and security concerns vanish if you delete the app. It is the perfect solution. However, more work than just deleting the app is required. And this goes for all social media websites. If you delete the app from your phone, it will simply remove the application from your phone, and all of the data will remain as it is. You reinstall the app and begin using it again like before.
You must usually fill out a form to ensure that TikTok removes anything you share on the platform. After you fill that and delete your account, can you finally be sure that TikTok is not using any of your information against you?
TikTok is just like all the other social media platforms in terms of security. TikTok privacy and security measures are plenty and have helped to give users a wholesome experience, but many concerns still need addressing.
It is necessary to have a certain wit and understanding of internet platforms when using any social media website. This wit helps keep you away from many scams and security threats. While TikTok is not a threatening website, practicing caution will only help improve your experience.