Is TikTok A Spy App? What Data Does It Collect?

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TikTok is the most famous short-form video content app in the world today, it has gained all this popularity in a very short amount of time. It’s always in the news but mostly for all the bad reasons. The app is banned in most parts of the world including India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc.

The reason behind its ban is said to be the national security and the privacy of the citizens of the country. But is that all true or it’s an economical war against China by their enemy country? Is TikTok really spyware? Can you be traced through TikTok? Stay tuned and I will try to answer all your questions about it. So, let’s begin.

Table Of Contents

Is TikTok A Spy App From China?

is tiktok safe

The biggest concern people have about TikTok being a spying tool is that all the data it collects from its users is stored on its servers which are situated in China. This means its users’ personal data can be accessed by the Chinese government.

However, according to TikTok now their data centers are situated outside of China. Does that make TikTok safe? No, not completely. TikTok can still see everything on your phone.

Moreover, according to a report in Forbes, TikTok was caught spying on the clipboard data of iPhone users which is against the iPhone’s privacy rules. These kinds of activities make everyone doubtful of TikTok and hence they consider it a tracking app.

Does TikTok Steal Your Info & What Data Does It Collect?

I can’t say anything about stealing but TikTok does collect a lot of your personal data which you yourself allow them to access while installing the app. For example, they have access to your contacts, call logs, messages, phone gallery, etc. Apart from that, TikTok knows your exact location as it has access to your phone’s GPS as well.

Not just TikTok but all other apps installed on your phone has this information about you. So it shouldn’t be that big of a deal if TikTok also knows all this about you. Yes, that’s true but looking at the reputation TikTok has built for itself around the world, sometimes it doesn’t feel right to let TikTok know so much about you.

Can TikTok Spy On You Through Camera?

can tiktok record you

Apart from all other permissions that I have discussed above, TikTok also takes camera and microphone permission from you. Once you have given these permissions, TikTok can access your camera or microphone anytime without letting you know, but does it actually do that?

Well, it only accesses the microphone and camera when you are recording a video on the app. Apart from that, if it ever tries to use the camera and microphone then you will know about it.  You will see a green dot on your screen next to the camera which means someone is spying on you through the camera.

Earlier this feature was available on iPhones only. But in the latest Android 12 update, you get this feature on Android as well so no need to worry.

Why Does TikTok Collect So Much Data?

You must have noticed that TikTok asks a lot of permissions from you while installing the app. Have you ever wondered why TikTok collects so much data? Keep reading to know about it.

  • The first reason why TikTok collects your data is for doing data analysis and creating statistics to make their app better.
  • The second reason why they need your data is to show you personalized content.
  • By collecting your data TikTok can show you relevant ads.
  • To make their platform safe from abusive and illegal activities.

According to TikTok, they never sell their user’s data to anyone. However, they have admitted that they do share some private data of their users with their business partners.

Is TikTok Worse Than Facebook?

Even after so many allegations, TikTok makers claim their app is safe for their users. The same is said by the makers of Facebook. However, both TikTok and Facebook have their own dangers as they have indulged in data breaches in the past. So you can’t call both the apps to be totally safe as the risk of privacy breach is there with both of them.

Both apps stand on the same page when it comes to safety but TikTok is considered worse than Facebook by many Americans only because it’s a Chinese app. And it’s not out of racism, they consider it more dangerous than Facebook because most Americans know China’s history of data interference.

How To Protect Yourself From TikTok?

is tiktok spying app

The best advice I can give you to protect yourself from TikTok is to not use it in the first place itself. Because there is no way you can hide your details from them while using their app.

If you still want to use the app then you can manage the permissions that the app requires from you. In case you feel the app is asking for some unnecessary permission, you can simply disable it. Doing so might hinder your experience on the app but at least you will be safe on it. For example, there is no need to give location permission to the app. If you disable location permission on TikTok, it will not cause any problems while using the app.

You can also make use of a VPN service while using the TikTok app. A VPN will hide your location and IP address details so TikTok can’t find your exact location.

Does Deleting TikTok Stop Spying?

Most people think if they delete the TikTok app from their phone, it will stop spying or tracking them. But does deleting TikTok really stop spying? Well, the answer to this question is tricky because TikTok still has some of your personal data even after deleting your account. So they still know a lot about you even if you have deleted your account from their server.

Is TikTok Safe? Final Verdict

If you look at it just as a social media app, then you can say that TikTok is safe. It does not contain any malware so you can be sure that your personal data is not going to be stolen by some random hackers. However, that does not make TikTok a 100% safe app.

TikTok has been banned in many countries and it always creates controversy for one reason or the other. Therefore, I don’t recommend using this app, even if you do, be very careful, because your privacy might be at stake.


What Is The Biggest Risk Of TikTok?

The most significant risk of TikTok is that it can see everything on your phone.

Is TikTok Owned By China?

Yes, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company named ByteDance.

Can TikTok Still Track You If You Delete The App?

Tiktok still has your data when you delete your account hence they can still track you.

About the Author

Ankit Prasad, an engineer driven by a passion for digital safety, founded SpyDrill to simplify cybersecurity. With a modest approach, Ankit shares insights on parental control and monitoring apps and effective protection measures. His aim is to empower users with practical knowledge, bridging the gap between technology and everyday understanding. An advocate for digital literacy, Ankit's commitment to demystifying cyber threats underscores his dedication to creating a safer online environment for all.

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