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Tik Tok: Terms of Use You Didn’t Read

Terms of Use You Didn’t Read is back and this month I’m looking at Tik Tok’s Terms of Use. By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of the terms that you agree to by using Tik Tok, what data they’re really using to track you, and how it compares to other social media platforms and the data that they collect on you.

What Tik Tok’s Terms of Use Say About Music

The first thing that stood out to me in Tik Tok’s Terms of Use was regarding music. Obviously, music and sound recordings play a huge part in using Tik Tok, whether it’s dancing or lip synching, or just using music in the background.

Here’s what Tik Tok has to say about music and sound recordings:

No rights are licensed with respect to sound recordings and musical works embodied therein that are made available from or through the service.

Tik Tok Terms of Service, Paragraph 7

Tik Tok also says that if you don’t own the rights to the musical composition and the sound recording, you may not upload that music to Tik Tok. It also says that if you create a musical work of some kind, or any kind of sound recording, whether you’re speaking or singing, that by uploading it to Tik Tok you allow all other users of Tik Tok to edit, manipulate, create a new recording based on that recording.

Data and Tik Tok’s Privacy Policy

Now let’s dive into the Privacy Policy. Privacy policies, of course, talk about what data a company collects, how they collect it, and how it’s used. The data collected by Tik Tok falls under three categories. One is information that you choose to provide to them; two, information that they collect from other sources; and three, information that they collect automatically.

Information You Choose to Provide

It should not surprise you Tik Tok collects information that you choose to provide; you are choosing to provide that information.

Let’s compare Tik Tok to Facebook, though. In creating your profile with Tik Tok, you might enter your email address or phone number, you might upload a photo, and then of course, you upload whatever content you upload through the platform. With Facebook, you’re uploading your photo, or multiple, multiple photos, and videos, your profile information, which can contain anything from your high school to your mother, who might have her maiden name up there. (Can you say, security question information?)

So in terms of privacy concerns with apps, that’s a big thing to think about — what information do you voluntarily upload to the platform? Again, Tik Tok has your face and your video and content that you upload through the platform, but the profile is very basic. You might have a link to your other social media platforms, a very short bio and your photo. Facebook has a lot more information. This is something to remember when you’re using any social media platform, but especially in comparing Tik Tok to other platforms.

Info Tik Tok Collects from Other Sources

Information that they collect from other sources can be information from social media platforms. If you connect your Facebook account to Tik Tok, for example, it might also collect your contacts on Facebook so that you can find your friends who are also on Tik Tok.

They might collect your information from third party services like advertisers.

They might collect information from you from other “publicly available sources.”

Info Tik Tok Collects Automatically

Information Tik Tok collects automatically can be usage information, device information, location data, messages, metadata, and cookies.

Usage information can be information like how long you stay on the app, what you like and what you favorite while you’re in the app — the type of information that relates to how you are using it. (So does Facebook.)

Device information. This is not just the type of phone that you use to log into the place form, but also your IP address, your mobile carrier, your timezone settings, keystroke patterns or rhythms, and file names and types. (Fb tracks this, too.)

Messages. Obviously they can scan and view messages that are sent within the app. (Facebook is notorious for this as well.)

Cookies are primarily used to track what webpages you’re clicking on, and to send targeted advertisements your way. You can disable cookies in the Tik Tok settings. Tons of sites track cookies, and, thanks to Europe, it’s now common to see an “opt-in to cookies” pop-up bar the first time you visit a website.

Is Tik Tok Scanning Your Device for Payment Information?

There’s nothing in this Privacy Policy about going into your phone and collecting credit card information. Note, though, that if you choose to upload credit card information or, for example, PayPal information, to the platform, that’s information that you’re voluntarily giving to Tik Tok. That’s one of the rumors out there that Tik Tok is crawling your phone and stealing your credit card numbers. I do not see that in this Privacy Policy.

How Tik Tok Uses Your Information

This section looks pretty standard. They use it to fulfill requests for products and services, to customize the content you see, to send promotional materials, to improve and develop the platform to measure effectiveness of advertising, make suggestions and provide customized ad experience, blah, blah, blah.

And, if you’re curious, here’s a little comparison or example of how Facebook tracks your activities on other websites.

What You Can Do If Tik Tok’s Tracking Makes You Nervous

So, what do you do if you’re uncomfortable with some of these privacy practices? Like I mentioned, you can disable cookies, that’s a setting in Tik Tok. Apple and Android devices allow you to limit ad tracking within your settings and switch off location tracking on your device as well so that Tik Tok doesn’t have access to that information. These are all things that you can do (and maybe should do!) with regard to a lot of social media platforms.

So I hope that gives you a better understanding of Tik Tok, the terms you agree to when you’re using Tik Tok, and the data that Tik Tok has on you.

Keep on creating that great content!