TikTok is a fun little app that lets you watch some pretty innovative and inspiring videos.
However, there is more to this app than meets the eye, and it certainly did not lack bad press because of its questionable existence.
To put it simply, there is reason to believe that using TikTok will not only compromise your privacy, but it could also lead to manipulation of your way of thinking and viewing the world.
Sounds ridiculous, right?
However, the same warning also came from the Pentagon, the US senators, and others.
So, let's first take a look at why they are so concerned about TikTok, and then later I'll cover how you can delete it, should their arguments convince you to do so. (You can skip straight to the delete instructions here.)
Is TikTok dangerous?
For most people, TikTok is just a fun app for short videos, which they may have installed on their own mobile device, or maybe even their work-related device.
The app has been around since 2016, and a Beijing-based tech firm, ByteDance own it. Although it was popular in China and Asia back then, it has only really started to penetrate the western market.
In the past four years, it was downloaded over 1 billion times, which makes it one of the most popular applications in the world.
As such, it offers an entire industry of viral stars, influencers, and alike.
Even some of the US Democratic presidential candidates are using it, not to mention news organizations, politicians in other countries, celebrities, and others.
Most recently the UK got it's first ‘TikTok house‘ with some of the most popular British stars.
So, why is this a problem? Well, the problem comes from the fact that this is a Chinese app.
Obviously, the US and China are not in a great place right now.
Everyone still remembers the trade war that threatened to get even more out of hand only months ago. China is also known for being one of the most intrusive countries in the world, and its online surveillance is beyond anything most of us can even imagine.
Is it then really so strange that Pentagon believes that the Chinese government could use TikTok for spying on the entire world?
Chinese law and information manipulation
So far, the situation doesn't look very good, but that's not even half of the problem.
According to China's laws, the country's government has full right to collect and study any data it may be interested in, as long as it is stored on servers within the country.
TikTok's servers are within China, which means that the country can do whatever it wants with the information collected by the app.
Now, remember that the app is installed on more than a billion smartphones, and it requests all kinds of permissions while you are downloading and installing it.
Another significant issue is that China likes its censorship practices, and it tends to manipulate information via TikTok (or so the theory says) to control what info goes out into the world.
For example, the country did not like people talking about the Hong Kong protests, which is why it blocked anyone who mentioned it on the internet, and such info never found its way to TikTok.
Or how about Feroza Aziz who posted a make-up video but used it to speak about the repression of Chinese Muslims?
These are only some examples of why you should take TikTok seriously, and why you should consider deleting it right away.
How to close your TikTok account
If your privacy concerns are finally significant enough for you to consider deleting the app, or you've become bored, here is what you should do.
- Log into your TikTok account via the website or app.
- Go to your Profile tab.
- Find the Settings icon and tap it.
- Next, proceed to Manage My Account.
- Tap the Delete account option.
- Read through the statement and click ‘Delete Account‘.
There are a few things that you should keep in mind, such as the fact that you won't be able to log back in after deleting the account.
You will also lose all videos that you posted unless you still have a copy on your devices.
You will also lose access to any purchased items, with no chance of a refund. Meanwhile, the information that you shared, like chat messages, will remain visible to others.
Are there ways of protecting yourself against surveillance?
If the situation regarding TikTok and China has shaken you up a bit and made you aware of what a huge issue online surveillance is, it is understandable that you might be interested in how to protect yourself.
There is a lot you can do to assist your online privacy and while it can never be a 100% guaranteed, it's a good start.
Here are some of the best things you can do to keep yourself safe and private online:
TikTok is an excellent app until you know the price of using it.
After gaining that knowledge, many have decided that the app is not worth the privacy risks, and we believe that you have the right to make that decision as well.
So, if you are concerned about your privacy on the internet, there is definitely a good reason for that. But, there are things you can do to protect yourself, one of which is to uninstall TikTok right now.
By following some of the mentioned rules, you can certainly reduce the amount of information about yourself that gets recorded on the internet.
It is tough to browse the web and not leave a footprint, although you can still do a few things to reduce the amount of data you leave behind you. And, since every little bit helps, it is certainly worth considering.
Illustration © Eugenebsov – Dreamstime.com