How to use TikTok safely
TikTok has nearly 690 million monthly users. In Poland, up to 40% of people who have an account on this service spend more than an hour a day watching and creating videos. However, by publishing them, they may inadvertently put their sensitive data at risk. How to maintain privacy while not giving up your TikTok?
Problem data security on TikTok was addressed m.in. In the United States, where the military has banned the app from being installed on employees’ work phones. In India, the government has completely blocked the use of the service. The main concern is that TikTok is a Chinese originated app. Businesses in this country are required to provide the government with the information they collect. Although the company claims that user data is safe, some countries and organizations do not believe these assurances.
The youngest unaware of the risks
The fact that applications are used mainly by children and adolescents is worrying. In Poland 1 in 4 users are not there yet 13 years, a 90% this person underage.
– The youngest users often do not have adequate skills to assess online risks and are not aware of the dangers. By recklessly sharing their image in photos and videos, as well as other sensitive data, they can become victims not only of alterations or heckling from peers, but also of cybercriminals. Information gathered in this way can be used to personalize an attack via SMS or email. This way, for example, bank login data are phished and malicious links are sent. This can also be a threat for parents who share devices with their children – indicates Grzegorz Nocoń, Systems Engineer at Sophos.
How to ensure privacy?
1. Block the application from accessing data it doesn’t need
Each program on first run asks for permission to access a lot of information on the smartphone, e.g. GPS location, address book, calendars, health data etc. To limit the scope of data collected by the application, it is best to block all the options. In some cases, apps won’t work then, but to record your own TikToks, you only need access to a camera and microphone.
2. Change the account to private
By default a new TikTok account is public. This means that you have no control over who views your content. Switching the account to private will make every new friend have to be approved – this function works similarly to the one on Instagram.
3. Don’t let them find you
By default, TikTok can promote a user’s content throughout the site, even outside of their followers. However, if the account in the app is not used for business, it is better to disable this option. The profile will then also not appear in search engines, and videos will not be recommended to others. As a result, in order to get to a particular person’s account, you will have to type the username into the search engine.
4. Limit the ability to interact with videos
An important feature of TikTok is recording duets and stitches. These are videos that link to a pre-existing recording. However, each user can block the ability to record compositions with their videos – this way private content will not be spread further. For the same purpose you should disable the ability to download videos. In the settings you can also disable (or limit to observers only) the ability to comment on recordings and send private messages.
5. Remember to protect the youngest
Family mode allows you to set up parent-child accounts on TikTok. This means that it is possible to remotely control the settings of a child’s account from the parent’s phone. You can also decide how much time a child will spend in the application. In addition, the parent has the ability to block searches for certain phrases, accounts and hashtags. It’s also a good idea to make sure your child provides a real date of birth when creating an account. Thanks to this, the application will apply additional filters and restrictions for minors.