According to a recent study, two social networking TikTok and YouTube track more personal data than any other social media app.
The study was published last month by mobile marketing company URL Genius. YouTube, owned by Google, collects users’ personal data for its own purposes such as tracking search history or even location, from which it can display ads that users may be most interested.
Meanwhile, TikTok, owned by Chinese ByteDance, tends to allow third-party trackers to collect user data, from engagement with posts to timing. posting time, their physical location, or even their personal information. Therefore, it is difficult to know how the user’s data will be used. The study even warned that users’ activity on other websites even after shutting down the app could be tracked.
To conduct research, URL Genius used the iPhone App Security Report feature (launched with iOS 15.2) to count and trace different domains, thereby tracking user activity. across 10 social media apps, including YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger, and Whatsapp.
Surprisingly, Facebook and Meta’s other apps (Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp) don’t come at the top, but instead YouTube and TikTok with 14 network contacts/apps – significantly higher than with an average of 6 addresses in the study.
10/14 addresses of trackers contacted by YouTube are first-party network addresses (some services of YouTube or Google itself) for its own purposes. The remaining 4 addresses are the domains of third parties, which means that the platform allows a small number of mysterious outside parties to collect information and track users’ activities.
More worryingly, TikTok has 13 out of 14 domains contacted come from third parties (not TikTok’s). What’s more, research shows that third-party tracking still occurs even if users don’t choose to allow tracking in the settings of each app.
“It is currently impossible for users to know what data is shared with third-party networks and how their data will be used,” the report’s authors expressed concern.
The Wall Street Journal has warned about how TikTok collects user data, including location, search history, IP address, videos watched, and how long users watch them. From there, TikTok can guess the user’s age-to-gender personal characteristics based on other information it collects.
In 2020, then-US President Donald Trump considered banning TikTok in the US over concerns about the app’s data privacy policies, before incumbent President Joe Biden dismissed those threats. and ordered a review of potential security threats possessed by foreign applications.