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Closed up image of a Female using TikTok application on a smartphone in home. 5 September, 2022. ChiangMai, Thailand.
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TikTok is Storing Data in China, Contrary to Former Claims

TikTok CEO said user data isn't stored in China. Turns out it is.

Many online creators and entrepreneurs give sensitive data to TikTok, the China-owned social media app, so they can do business on the platform. That includes social security numbers. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew told Congress earlier this year that users’ data was stored outside of China in places such as Virginia and Singapore. Apparently, however, that is an inaccurate claim.

According to a report from Forbes, TikTok has indeed been storing sensitive data on Chinese servers, where employees there can access it. Alexandra S. Levine reports,

A trove of records obtained by Forbes from multiple sources across different parts of the company reveals that highly sensitive financial and personal information about those prized users and third parties has been stored in China. The discovery also raises questions about whether employees who are not authorized to access that data have been able to. It draws on internal communications, audio recordings, videos, screenshots, documents marked “Privileged and Confidential,” and several people familiar with the matter.

-Alexandra S. Levine, TikTok Creators’ Sensitive Financial Information Stored In China (forbes.com)

The US government is demanding that TikTok break off from its parent company, ByteDance, or face a potential ban in the United States. Levine has also reported on the “blow” such a ban might strike against TikTok creators who are depending on the platform for revenue. Nonetheless, China has a history of stealing financial information from Americans, making the current revelation all the more suspicious.

Aside from security issues, TikTok is a radically addictive app, which we’ve discussed here at Mind Matters on several occasions. The algorithm is highly tuned to trap the user in a black hole of short videos that are long enough to entertain but short enough to encourage infinite scrolling.

Both the privacy issue and the dangers of addiction and cognitive decay are real threats. If the government doesn’t ban TikTok in the United States, parents should definitely consider banning it in their own households for the mental health and sanity of their kids.

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TikTok is Storing Data in China, Contrary to Former Claims