Is TikTok actually dangerous?
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
In yet another spout between China and the rest of the world, the makers of the popular TikTok mobile application have been receiving heavy scrutiny over privacy and safety concerns.
Just this week, Amazon had emailed all of its staff, advising them to delete the TikTok app from their phones, but Amazon later retraced this email and stated it was 'sent in error'. Although this isn't the first time a company (or entire country) has made such allegations, it still leads to the same question, is TikTok dangerous?
Wells Fargo seems to think so - The US-based bank recently announced a ban for all of their staff, prohibiting them from using the application on company mobiles.
The main reason for a lot of the restrictions taking place against the app globally is centred around how user data is stored. Some reports say that private data is being taken by TikTok's data centre employees and being sent back to China - Or if you want to look at it in a more serious way, you can't rule out the Chinese government being a part of the process.
We have seen allegations like this before, like the ones made by the US against Chinese based mobile company Huawei, for data privacy concerns with regards to the mobile chips they were having manufactured, and then being used in US technology.
TikTok is the only Chinese-based social media giant
The main thing people forget is that TikTok, although based in China, is just like any of the other social media giants - Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc.
All of these companies have their active users consent to data collection declarations upon sign up - They all run ads, and they all store your data in cloud data centres. The business model is the same throughout.
The danger TikTok could pose isn't in the app itself, but in China's surging growth - They are turning into a global superpower, and utilising data storage could be one of their tactics, we simply don't know. The only real dangers from the app itself are the pretty distinct lack of age filters on content - There have been hundreds of reports where pornography, violence and racist content has been left to run on user's feeds for hours before being taken down.
As we know, Facebook for example has the same issue, but tends to work faster to filter this kind of content. Every social media company has to work to filter out content.
It seems as though the way to determine whether it is dangerous for you as an individual is to weigh up the risks Chinese authorities pose, and whether you are involved in important elements of the economy, such as working for the government, having a work-funded phone, having social status or wealth etc. TikTok probably isn't dangerous, but then again, no social media company can really be deemed "100% safe".