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Why ‘how to permanently delete TikTok’ trending up

“A quick look at TikTok’s permissions shows the app prioritises data harvesting over user privacy,” says Jha.

TikTok. — © AFP
TikTok. — © AFP

Following the release of Joe Rogan’s most recent podcast, where he spoke heavily about TikTok privacy and said: “it all ends with China having all of your data”, some interesting search data has emerged about the social media service.

Joe Rogan is a U.S. podcaster, Ultimate Fighting Championship colour commentator, comedian, actor, and former television presenter. Politically, he leans towards the libertarian right.

“I read TikTok’s terms of service, I went down a TikTok rabbit hole yesterday … This is so crazy,” Rogan said, adding “User agent, mobile carrier, time zone settings, identifiers for advertising purpose, model of your device, the device system, network type, device IDs, your screen resolution and operating system, app and file names and types. So all your apps and all your file names, all the things you have filed away on your phone, they have access to that.”

Following the concerns about TikTok, the company VPNOverview has revealed searches for ‘how to permanently delete your TikTok account’ have risen 140 percent since the podcast and this term has received 56,000 searches in the last month.

In terms of what data does TikTok collects, privacy expert, Prateek Jha at VPNOverview tells Digital Journal: “TikTok collects far more data than it needs to function effectively. It gathers data about all the other apps that are on a user’s device.”

Just how much data can be seen via a straightforward check says Jha: “A quick look at TikTok’s permissions shows the app prioritises data harvesting over user privacy.”

For the issue at hand, Jha states: “As Joe Rogan mentioned in his podcast, when you read into TikTok’s Privacy policy it states, ‘We collect certain information about the device you use to access the platform, such as your IP address and user region’. In addition, they have access to all the apps and files you have stored away on your device”

Dealing with this is not easy, says Jha: “When you try to deny permissions, such as access to your contact list, the app persistently asks for permission until it is granted. Not to forget, the app also has consistent access to your devices calendar.”

Furthermore, with the service: “It tracks usage patterns, keystroke pattern and rhythms, SIM card information and what device you use. With such information, TikTok can effectively create a real-time diagram of a user’s device.”

The implications of this are, says Jha: “If a user does not consent to sharing their location via GPS, the app automatically collects ‘approximate location’ data based on the user’s SIM card and IP address. Even if you say no, it still knows your location.”

For those concerned about this and who are seeking to move away from this particular service, Jha provides advice on how to permanently delete your TikTok account

  • Open the TikTok app and head over to your profile tab.
  • Tap the “…” icon on the top right corner to open the setting menu.
  • Tap “Manage my Account”.
  • Tap “Delete Account” right at the bottom.
  • Follow the on-screen prompts to delete your account. REMEMBER: you must not login into the app for 30 days to permanently delete your account.

Those thinking of following Jha’s advice should carefully consider if they want to lose all of their data.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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