TikTok's tracking, even for visitors without an account, is comprehensive
Popular social video sharing service TikTok, like other social media services, employs ample tracking and data collection in order for users to access the service for free. However, even for people who don't post videos or who haven't even registered, the data tracking has been found to be comprehensive in a new investigation.
The investigation, originally done by VICE Italy and then released in English, showcases just how much data TikTok collects and utilizes even for people that use TikTok without signing up for an account. The reporter, Riccardo Coluccini, used TikTok daily for a brief 2 month period, viewing an average of 30 videos per day.
When Coluccini first requested his data per GDPR, TikTok denied his request, citing that they "are unable to locate an account associated with the email address." Despite this, they were able to attribute his data to his personal use via the device ID, and he was able to see that TikTok shared this data with Facebook almost 600 times over that 2 month use period. This data was linked to his personal Facebook data, despite TikTok saying that they could not provide this data to the reporter directly.
Coluccini was able to receive this data from TikTok after attaching his IP address and device ID to the request. TikTok provided him 2 password protected Excel files in one email, and the password to unlock them in a separate email. This data was so granular and detailed that it had timestamped actions for even the smallest function and use from the app.
The main point that Coluccini made at the conclusion of the article mirrors one that you might be familiar with as an AlternativeTo visitor:
"By now, we all know that social media platforms have vast databases of our activity. It’s up to you to decide if you want to keep using TikTok or not. Just remember – browsing without an account doesn’t make you anonymous."