TikTok and YouTube collect the most user data of any

TikTok and YouTube collect the most user data of any social media app

A study by URL Genius found that TikTok and YouTube collect the most user data of any social networking app. While YouTube does this for its own benefit, TikTok allows third-party trackers to collect data, making it hard to predict how that information will be used in the future.

Image Credit: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto / Getty Image

Image Credit: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto / Getty Image

The study found that Google’s own video service, YouTube, collects user data primarily for its own benefit. This is done, for example, to track browsing history or location in order to show relevant ads to the user. At the same time, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, mostly allows third-party trackers to collect data, so it’s hard to say where that information goes and how it’s used.

With third-party trackers, it is almost impossible to understand who is collecting user data and what kind of information it is. This can be a variety of data, including location information, as well as personal information, to which the application has access. It is also noted that third-party trackers may track user activity even after the application exits.

The URL Genius study used the app activity recording feature available on iOS devices. With its help, it was possible to determine how many different domains monitor user activity in YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger and WhatsApp applications during a session. YouTube and TikTok each made 14 network contacts, which is significantly more than the other apps, which only averaged 6 network connections. Note that these values ​​are likely to be even higher for authorized users.

It was also found that 10 YouTube trackers belong to the service. This means that the platform is basically monitoring user activity for its own benefit. At the same time, four trackers transmitted data to a third party. In the case of TikTok, 13 out of 14 trackers shared data with third parties, and tracking was not stopped even if the user did not give permission in the application settings.

TikTok has been criticized in the past for collecting and using user data, particularly from underage users of the platform. Last year, TikTok’s privacy policy mentioned that user data could be shared with the service’s parent company, despite claims that the platform had followed security measures “Protection of the privacy of user data”.


About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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