TikTok Tracks Your Online Search History, Location, Personal Data and More – Study Explains There’s No Way To Know Where It’s Going

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According to a recent report published last month by mobile marketing company URL Genius, YouTube and TikTok track users’ personal data more than any other social networking app.

According to the study, YouTube collects your personal data for its own purposes, such as tracking your internet search history or even your location to give you targeted advertising. However, TikTok largely permits third-party trackers to capture your data – and it’s unknown what happens to it after that.

Because TikTok uses third-party trackers, it’s hard to know who’s following your data or what information they’re gathering. This includes everything from which postings you interact with — and how much time you spend on each one — to your actual location and any other personal information you share with the app. These third-party trackers can track your activity on other sites even after you’ve left the app.

URL Genius examined data collection across 10 different social media apps — YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger, and Whatsapp — in a single visit, before you even log into your account.

YouTube and TikTok had 14 network contacts each, which was much more than the study’s average of six network contacts per app. According to the report, these numbers are often higher for users who have accounts on those apps.

Ten of YouTube’s trackers were first-party network contacts, showing the company was monitoring user activity for its own interest. Four of the connections came from third-party websites, indicating that a few unknown third-party entities could collect information and track YouTube user activity.

TikTok’s results were less clear: 13 of the 14 network contacts on the popular social media app were from outside sources. According to the study, third-party tracking occurred even when users did not opt in to allow tracking in each app’s settings.

The Bottom Line:

Unfortunately, in this ongoing cybersecurity struggle, the onus rests largely on users to safeguard themselves. While devices are becoming more affordable, this does not imply that they are superior or inherently trustworthy.

TikTok and other overseas tech brands serve as a warning that data is never secure unless the user takes the necessary precautions.

Our greatest recommendation is to think carefully about your security situation before connecting any gadget to your home or business network. You never know who is looking.

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji

Ahmed Khanji is the CEO of Gridware, a leading cybersecurity consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. An emerging thought leader in cybersecurity, Ahmed is an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and regularly contributes to cybersecurity conversations in Australia. As well as his extensive background as a security advisor to large Australian enterprises, he is a regular keynote speaker and guest lecturer on offensive cybersecurity topics and blockchain.

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