Some parents, entities, and even governments are banning the obviously controversial TikTok app. Warnings about its intrusive user tracking and other security issues have prompted tech experts to reverse-engineer the app, and they reveal and generally confirm flaws that exposes user accounts and information. This is not to compare Facebook and Instagram, who do about the same, TikTok takes that to a whole other level. Having in mind that by the end of 2019, just before Covid-19 made everyone stay home, TikTok was one of the top five popular free apps for the iPhone. After the quarantine took place, this ranking even moved up a notch once people were getting bored and started to use the app even more. Also before the end of 2019, the US Army banned soldiers from using TikTok, amid Pentagon warning.

TikTok was labeled by engineers and experts in the field as a “data collection service”. Any APIs available to collect user information was utilized. It even goes further by collecting deleted app information, which is a strong indication that it may be fetching cached values.

Without getting too technical, GPS pinging, proxy servers, transcoding are all ill indicators, but when it comes to Zipping and Unzipping of downloaded files (specifically on the Android version); there is no purpose a social media app would need these functionalities legitimately. That is the functionality and consistency of a spyware.

This is quite alarming! Not because its Chinese, but because it is essentially a malware wrapped in a meaningless app. Normalizing giving away data still needs to have boundaries.