TikTok collects and shares their users’ personal data with unknown third parties more than any other social media app, according to new research.
According to a new study released last month by mobile marketing firm URL genius, both TikTok and YouTube track the most user among social media apps.
However, while YouTube, which is owned by Google, collects users’ personal data primarily for its own purposes, TikTok, which is owned by China-based tech giant ByteDance, allows mostly third-party trackers to collect user data.
With third-party trackers, it is basically impossible for users to know who is tracking their data and what information is being collected. All personal information, including content being viewed and posted, time spent on each post, location data, and any other personal information shared on the apps, is accessible to the unknown third parties.
The study also pointed out that TikTok’s third-party tracker can still track users’ activities on other websites even after they leave the app.
The 10 social media apps tested in the study include YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
The results showed that YouTube and TikTok topped all apps with an average of 14 web trackers for each user, significantly higher than the average of six trackers for other apps. The study also specifically noted that this number is likely to be higher for the average user logging into these apps.
For TikTok, an average 13 of the 14 web trackers on the popular social media app were found to be from third parties. According to the study, third-party tracking was found to still occur even when users had not opted in to allow app tracking in their settings.
TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year, TikTok was sued by more than 6,400 parents in the Netherlands for collecting children’s data.
In June 2021, the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a measure to ban TikTok on government devices, due to concerns the China-owned app poses a threat to national security.