From the moment TikTok began its ascent into a social media craze, questions were raised about the security of the data it receives from users, and how that data is being used in TikTok’s country of origin, China. At one time that resulted in government threats to ban the app.

But Forbes recently published an article alleging an even greater breach of privacy - TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, planned to use the app to monitor the location of American citizens.

The company’s response was the standard, “We only do this to better create targeted advertising, etc.” excuse. But the material Forbes reviewed indicates that ByteDance's Internal Audit team was planning to use location information to surveil individual American citizens.

Just Another Way Your Private Information Can Become Public

TikTok does collect your personal information. We know this to be true because all social media platforms are doing the same, including Facebook and Twitter. We assume they are not sharing that content with foreign governments, but security leaks happen all the time. So if your personal data isn’t going to Beijing, it might end up on any number of people-finder websites – and for judges and police officers that’s a big problem.

Should You Be on TikTok?

We can’t answer that for you. But as TikTok is primarily popular with teenagers and millennials, we don’t suspect many cops and judges are using the platform. But they may have children or family members that love it.

While the accusations in this case have an added element of foreign intrigue, our basic message is the same one we offered after the high-profile hacking and data breach incidents at Uber and other companies: When you allow these entities to collect, store, and sell sensitive information on you, you make yourself vulnerable. That information can be used and misused for a lot of purposes – some more dangerous than others.

While we can keep your personal information off the internet, it is up to you to be aware of the policies of websites and social media platforms where your data is captured.  We can show you how to be on these platforms safely – it’s possible with the right tools and a few precautions. If you ever have any questions, please email us and we’ll be happy to answer them.


Ron Zayas


Ron Zayas is an online privacy expert, speaker, author, and CEO of 360Civic, a provider of online protection to law enforcement, judicial officers, and social workers. For more insight into onli... Read more

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