While young, American users continue to use the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-controlled app to agitate against America, they’re also handing a treasure trove of data over to the app developers without knowing it.
Upon Apple’s beta release of their latest mobile operating system – iOS 14 – experts began to note one a new notification.
When a user goes to “copy and paste,” a number of apps can see what they’ve just copied. Sometimes this is legitimate, such as when a browser needs to login with a password copied from a password manager app.
But users of the beta discovered that TikTok was one of the worst offenders, constantly monitoring the clipboard, where copied data is temporarily stored.
TikTok – owned by China’s ByteDance – released a statement claiming it was just an innocent mistake:
“For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior. We have already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion. TikTok is committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.”
Users were unimpressed.
“Guys, I’m starting to think TikTok doesn’t care too much about data privacy,” wrote Reddit user dualpear in the highest voted comment on the story.
“If someone with Tik Tok installed has ever copied/pasted a password, China has it,” wrote user beehive4.
Another Reddit user, bangorlol, claimed to have reversed engineered the iOS TikTok app and was alarmed at what he found.
“TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device… well, they’re using it.”
After going through his findings in detail, he concluded: “I’m a nerd who figures out how apps work for a job. Calling it an advertising platform is an understatement. TikTok is essentially malware that is targeting children. Don’t use TikTok. Don’t let your friends and family use it.”
As previously reported, the US Department of Defense has advised the military to ban the app from government-issued devices.
But TikTok remains popular in the United States, sitting at #1 on the Top Free App Chart in the iOS App Store at the time of writing. The app has been downloaded 165 million times in the U.S. alone, as of April 2020.
Now other nations are going further than America to protect data, children, and the nation.
Last Monday the government of India banned 59 Chinese-made apps, including TikTok, over concerns that these apps threatened the national security and sovereignty of India. This is a huge blow to TikTok, for whom India is the second-largest market.
India previously restricted TikTok in April over concerns that it allowed predators to groom children, but later reversed the order. Geopolitical tensions between India and China appears to have triggered the latest crackdown.
Not only does this ban keep TikTok away from Indian consumers, it leaves 2,000 employees based in India in limbo.
Former Disney streaming director Kevin Mayer took over as TikTok CEO at the beginning of June and is now under pressure to respond to the ban. The head of TikTok’s office in India, Nikhil Gandhi, released a statement claiming that they do not steal or share user data. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” he wrote.
Indian users seem to have taken this statement as seriously as their counterparts in the United States – “Boycott China” was trending on Indian Twitter this week.
Mainstream social media has declared war on conservatives throughout the United States and the world. Even worse than blatant censorship, however, is the subtle ways in which the algorithms that decide what you see can affect your view of the world.
New users to TikTok start off as a blank slate.
As they watch videos, the algorithm behind the app learns their preferences, and soon only recommends videos it thinks they will like. TikTok’s algorithm has been praised for its accuracy in determining what its users want to see. These algorithms, which are fine-tuned by engineers in the company, can shape a person’s perspective.
Imagine seeing only positive videos about one political cause while only negative videos about another. Imagine the algorithm reminding left-wing users to go out and vote on Election Day but showing right-wing users nothing but videos of puppies and kittens. This is the truly insidious part of Big Tech censorship.
We already know that American social media companies are censoring conservatives in this election year. Why should we allow a company that is ultimately beholden to the Chinese Communist Party to shape the way we see the world?
If you haven’t already deleted TikTok from your family’s devices: now is the time.
They have been proven to collect your data and send it to servers in China. They have been proven to spy on the way you use other apps on your phones and tablets. They have been proven to censor videos that do not align with their political values. They aim to shape your worldview into a narrow perspective.
Do not give them that opportunity – delete TikTok today.