Parents and Staff – Rethinking TikTok
Date: August 18, 2020 Posted by: Alana Ripepi
Your privacy matters
Currently, there are multiple conversations being held around the world as to the safety, security, privacy, addiction and possible long-term usage effects of TikTok. Is TikTok an innocent actor subject to international censorship, hysteria and commercial competition? We need to heed lessons from past behaviour, tokenistic pledges from social media giants and the outcomes from national inquiries on data privacy. The reality – it’s big business worth billions of dollars to countries with degrading relations and economic problems. An online profile of YOU has been created and is owned by someone else. That same information may be bought, sold, added to, and analysed. ALL social media perform analysis on their content to improve their processes and increase revenue. This means they are ALL looking at what you are doing online to some degree.
What is TikTok (click for eSafety advice)
It’s a 13+ mobile app allowing people to share 15-second lip sync videos, karaoke and acting scenes, backed with music. The app is owned by a Chinese based tech firm that operates very differently from a Californian start-up. It is currently worth in excess of 78 billion dollars and, to get there, invested heavily in advertising.
Online Safety Warnings
There are well known online safety warnings and issues: unsupervised usage of minors, bullying, unwanted contact and grooming by sexual predators. Let’s look at TikTok’s other issues as the safety issues have been around since it was musical.ly (the founding company).
In psychological terms, it is reported TikTok uses random (intermittent) reinforcement which is likened to being addicted to gambling. TikTok has built-in, knowingly addictive patterns and processes with variable rewards, to keep you going. Concerns have been raised that the developing brains of children will have a reduction of the child’s attention span due to the constant limitations of only 15-second clips. Random reinforcement, or variable rewards, is not a new process for app designers, TikTok just does it well.
TikTok can access and transmit your –IP, Unique device ID, camera, microphone, GPS location detail, keystrokes and pattern logging with children’s data and privacy. Information by Australian Strategic Policy Institute outline that there is no mention where user details from Australia are kept.
You are handing over to TikTok all your Facebook contacts if you connect TikTok to your Facebook account. The full extent of how TikTok tracks user data is unknown. It is not known how TikTok’s algorithm promotes content to users or what types of information the Beijing based company is, and is not, obligated to share with the Chinese Government. Why doesn’t Facebook refuse to allow TikTok to have your contacts? Big data means big business to social media transnationals.
In June 2020 it was reported about TikTok exploiting how ‘clipboard’ content can be recorded. This is not new information and is exploited by app makers and miscreant developers. iOS14 now advises you if your clipboard is being accessed.
In April 2020 another TikTok vulnerability was discovered – how ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks can exploit the data as it sends data over the HTTP). Security analysts quite simply intercepted TikTok’s transmissions and sent back fake news, false data as if it came from popular digital influencers. Did you know that in December 2019 Check Point identified security issues, which have been patched, allowing miscreants to remotely delete your videos, send you SMS, upload unauthorised videos and reveal personal information?
Renewed scrutiny over data sovereignty – who controls your data?
TikTok is controlled and owned by a Chinese Company ByteDance. DouYin merged with Musical.ly. The $78+billion-dollar company did provide $250K for bush fire relief and $3 Million to COVID 19 in Australia. However, if reports are to be believed, in 2019 it spent $1 billion, i.e. 1000 million dollars, made $25 billion in revenue and $3 billion in net profit.
There are realistic concerns about who now owns and controls all of your content, and how your personal information will be used, due to the Chinese version, DouYin, being linked to state censorship on refusing political content to be posted and conflicting versions from the owner over security issues.
In July 2020, Global Times, a Chinese nationalist newspaper, even commented any Australian TikTok inquiry being unwise and may damage Australian trade to China worth approx. $126 Billion (per year). Facebook has been taken to task by multiple countries over privacy and its operations – why should TikTok be any different?
How concerned are some people in government (long before the sensationalist reporting) about TikTok?
- 2020 – UK staff in lockdown – the app is not to be used by government employees
- 2019 – Australian military banning the app being on any of its devices
- 2019 – US legislation to prohibit federal employees using or downloading the app.
- July 2020 – India banned TikTok for the second time (first time due to pornography and now with a number of Chinese based apps).
Let’s sum up the issues
· It’s a massive global business
· Possible mental health issues and possible reduction in attention span
· Device addiction issues
· History of security flaws
· History of privacy concerns
· History of online safety issues for adults
· History of online safety issues for children
· Possible manipulation of news, and
· International political spotlight on security
· Perceived risk of foreign government interference and monitoring
It is a matter of trust and education is key
TikTok is a big pass for me and so is Instagram’s impending ‘TikTok’ style update. Who do you trust with your information? Your privacy matters and players are exhibiting less than genuine motivations. The simplistic views of data privacy – they have my data anyway or what they will do with it doesn’t matter – is dangerous. It’s big business. By default, you should fall back to consider all the information and practise safety in using any social media app.
Your account is deactivated for 30 days before it is permanently inaccessible. Once deactivated your videos will not be available.
- Deleting your account, you will lose access to all of your TikTok content. If you purchased items in the app, you will not be eligible for a refund
- Tap open TikTok and select the ‘me’ icon in the bottom right hand corner
- Tap open … in the top right-hand corner of the screen
- Tap open ‘manage my account’
- Scroll down and tap open ‘delete account’.
Note you may have to open a connected Twitter or Facebook account to verify you want to delete the account. You may also have to keep selecting ‘delete account’ a few more times.