What TikTok knows about you and here's how to muzzle it

What TikTok knows about you and here's how to muzzle it


Developed in 2016 by the Chinese company ByteDance for the Chinese market and whose original name is Douyin, the mobile application for sharing videos and social networking became TikTok the following year, in the markets outside China. 

Very popular with young and old all over the planet, ByteDance is increasing its acquisitions (Musical.ly, News Republic) to reach a market value of more than US$100 billion in May 2020, according to Bloomberg.

Since it's big money, TikTok eats and grinds your personal data for advertising purposes to generate – you guessed it – billions in profits thanks to its pool of more than a billion subscribers. Here's how the company gets to know you much better than you can imagine.

These famous algorithms

We owe the algorithms that manage the recommendation system the meteoric rise of TikTok, these famous interactive programs that aim to predict what you, the users, like and provide you with more personalized content.

Where TikTok does better than other platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is that it even captures our passive and subtle behavioral patterns to teach its algorithms about us in real time as followers consume. videos.

…to make you passive

These computer models calculate how many times we let a video loop, how fast we scroll through certain content, and whether we are drawn to a particular category of effects and sounds. This hyper-responsive recommendation system allows TikTok users to remain completely passive if they wish, while arriving at a personalized and engaging content feed, much faster than in other platforms.

How does TikTok know you

Subscriber or not, TikTok collects information via cookies and other trackers. With an account, the platform collects data about your activities and your preferences based on the videos you watch.

TikTok knows the type of device used, your IP address, your search history, the content of your messages, what you watch and for how long. Additionally, your device identifiers are used to track your interactions with advertisers.

Additionally, the network is able to infer information such as your age range, gender, and centers of interest. interest based on the information it has about you. In the United States, TikTok may also collect biometric information, including facial and voice prints.

All of this data is expensive. So if someone watches a video to the end and gives it a like, TikTok can serve personalized ads based on that. Capturing such a feeling with this level of precision is more difficult with other platforms.

Upon registration, TikTok obtains your email, phone number, date of birth, and the content you create, along with the metadata associated with it. If you log in with Facebook, the information may also be shared with the social network.

TikTok's privacy policy goes so far as to include text, images and videos from your clipboard if you copy and paste content to or from the application or if you share it with a third-party platform.

While this policy is clear, it remains unclear as to the sharing of data with the joint controllers of the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the sharing with the other divisions of the group of companies.

< p>All this data is used to feed the algorithms, filters, but also uses for profiling and behavioral targeting.

Since the app requests access to your smartphone's microphone and camera, privacy permissions also allow TikTok to secure detailed information about your GPS location and other apps you're running. These privacy permissions can be accepted or rejected, but disabling them may limit TikTok's functionality.

Stop collecting your data

While this may limit TikTok's functionality, there are several settings worth checking out. To turn personalized ads on or off, go to Me and select … to open your settings. Then go to Privacy, Security, Personalize and Data and turn off the feature.

To request your data and see what TikTok knows about you, go to Profile and tap the three dots (…) to open your settings. Go to Privacy, Personalize and data, Download TikTok data.

TikTok lets you set your account as private, so only people you approve can follow you. However, this does impact functionality, warns TikTok. With a private account, other users will not be able to Duet, Stitch or download your videos. You can limit the audience for your videos in TikTok's privacy settings. Or, to set your account to private, go to Me, tap the three dots (…), Privacy, Enable Private Account.

A private account protects you from sharing information with other people, rather than with TikTok itself.

Another “divide and conquer” action, do not link your account with other platforms like Facebook and Google. This only multiplies your data in other networks.

If you have an iPhone, you can also use Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature to limit TikTok's ability to track your activities.< /p>

Use for your TikTok account a “disposable” email address with a different name, as well as an encrypted VPN connection to hide your location.

Or the “nuclear” method: close or not having a TikTok account.