SAN ANTONIO – TikTok is one of the hottest apps on millions of phones. The social media app’s videos are seen around the world, and users can’t seem to get enough of them.
But Consumer Reports says you need to think about what personal information you’re sharing with TikTok, and how to protect yourself online and adjust the app’s default privacy settings to your preferences.
For starters, adjust who can see your profile.
“Setting your whole TikTok account to private is a great way to get a little bit more control over who can see the stuff on your profile,” said Thomas Germain of Consumer Reports.
While TikTok is a social media company, it makes its money through advertising, just like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“Something that’s really valuable for tech companies is building out a huge network of everyone that you know: your friends, your family, your coworkers. And they present it as a way for you to find your acquaintances on TikTok, which can be great, but it also gives the tech companies a lot of information about you, and you might not want to do that,” Germain said.
To make sure the app doesn’t have access to your contacts or Facebook friends, toggle those settings off.
And, just above that setting, you can tell TikTok not to suggest your account to your contacts, Facebook friends, and others; that is, if you’re not interested in having followers on the platform.
TikTok and other companies use more than just information about your friends and family for their targeted ad campaigns.
“So you might not realize it but TikTok has code spread all over the internet on websites and apps to collect data about things you do when you’re not on TikTok,” Germain said. “Now, there’s nothing you can do to stop that entirely, but you can use a setting to control whether TikTok can use that data for targeted ads. And that’s a good idea to protect your privacy.”
And to protect yourself from hackers, not only on TikTok, but on other apps as well, Consumer Reports says one of the most important things you can do is set up multi-factor authentication.
“That’s that thing where they send you a code, right, through a text or an email,” Germain said. “So, you need not only your password but also access to your phone or your email account to get in.”
It’s that extra layer of security that does a lot to keep the bad guys out.