Using TikTok safely amid privacy concerns

There are 150 million American TikTok accounts.
In this week's safety first – Shevaun Bryan talks with a cybersecurity expert about ways to minimize that very real risk.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:33 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - If you have a teen or tween at home, TikTok is likely part of your life. Your child may spend hours scrolling, or even doing some cringeworthy dances to share.

It’s so common, it faces a possible ban as lawmakers question potential danger, considering the app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, collects so much data.

[Read also: TikTok challenge that claimed teen’s life should be talked about, Charlotte mother says]

There are 150 million American TikTok accounts, but cybersecurity experts say private citizens should reconsider the way they use the app.

“I would absolutely be thinking rethinking that, I would also be concerned if you have children,” said Chris Furtick with Fortalice Solutions. “Most children have TikTok accounts and they love watching the videos and I get it. I understand that, but think about all the data that we’re taking, not only from your device but also your child’s device, it collects all of your locations. It collects the people you contact; it collects your photos.”

Furtick says a way to use TikTok safely is by ditching the actual application.

“If you really want to be on TikTok, you want to see the latest dance craze and things like that, log in through the web browser and watch your videos that way,” said Furtick.

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As with all social media, watch what you post.

“You may be doing the latest dance craze, but you may have a copy of your address in the background. Maybe you’re doing in front of the house, or there’s bills sitting around with your address,” said Furtick.

Parents, it’s crucial for you to monitor what your children can share with others, and what they can come across.

There are concerns about the app’s content aimed at younger, from buying drugs on the app, to dangerous TikTok challenges, and videos promoting eating disorders and suicidal behavior.

Governor Roy Cooper banned TikTok for state employees, joining the White House, and dozens of states in restricting them from government-issued devices.

If your child is on TikTok, you can also set their account to private, use filters to block out harmful keywords, and other safety features.