TikTok shares more of your data than any other app, and a study says it's not clear where it goes

TikTok mostly makes untrackable third-party connections

A recent study found that YouTube and TikTok collect more personal data than any other social media apps, but how TikTok uses that data remains a complete mystery. 

Mobile marketing company URL Genius used the Record App Activity in Apple’s iOS 15.2 to which apps communicate with outside networks. YouTube and TikTok registered the most network contacts at 14 each – a significant jump from the average of 6 connections among other apps, such as Twitter, Telegram, Snapchat, and Whatsapp.

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More than the number of contacts was the type of contacts each app made: YouTube made 10 first-party contacts, but TikTok made 13 third-party contacts. The tracking still happened even when users didn’t opt into allow tracking. 

"Consumers are currently unable to see what data is shared with third-party networks, or how their data will be used," the report said, noting that third-party contacts could not be identified. 

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The U.S. has tried to crackdown on TikTok and its use, with some lawmakers including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., saying that the White House is moving too slowly to create a cohesive plan. 

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"TikTok remains a serious threat to U.S. national security and Americans’—especially children’s—personal privacy," Mr. Rubio said. "The Biden administration undid critical measures that President Trump took against the app, and the timid steps it has taken on data security are not nearly enough."

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The U.S. military already banned its members from using the app on government-issued devices. 

The Biden administration argued that executive orders signed by former President Donald Trump were unenforceable, and any new laws needed careful consideration to ensure they withstand any legal challenges. 

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The Commerce Department recently submitted recommendations to the White House to further address the risk that data collected on American users by Chinese apps could be shared with Beijing. 

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in Washington said the U.S. shouldn’t "overstretch the concept of national security and politicize economic issues."