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TikTok shares a ridiculous amount of user data before you even sign in

It shares more tracking data than any other social platform.

tiktok on iphone
Image: Unsplash

TikTok is tracking its users. I know, shocking, right? As it turns out, the social platform that has been making gargantuan waves over the last couple of years does more tracking than just about any other social platform out there. And no one even knows where all of that data is going.

A recent study from URL Genius took a look at several social media apps. Using iOS’s new Record App Activity feature, researchers were able to look at the tracking activity of 10 different social and messaging apps.

The Record App Activity feature monitors the various domains that an app connects to so users can see each and every one. Interestingly enough, the study found that most apps continue to track their users even if tracking permission is not granted through Apple’s strict privacy and security policy.

TikTok and YouTube connect to the most tracking domains

app tracking social media
Image: URL Genius

To keep the study under control, researchers loaded the apps only one time and never logged in to any of them. Of the 10 apps tested, both YouTube and TikTok connected to the most domains with 14 each. More domain connections mean more tracking activity.

READ MORE: TikTok is rolling out 10-minute videos

And what stands out, even more, is the origin of those domain connections. Of the 14 YouTube domain connections, 10 were first-party. That means that Google, which owns YouTube, used those connections for internal tracking purposes. The other four were unknown third-party trackers that YouTube lets harvest user data.

But TikTok’s numbers were a lot different. 13 of the 14 domain connections that happened during the study were third-party domains. That means that the overwhelming majority of the tracking that happens on TikTok is done by unknown third parties.

TikTok has seen its fair share of scrutiny over the last couple of years. The platform become the target of a Donald Trump executive order back in 2020. And the platform more recently settled a $92 million lawsuit over its collection of users’ biometric data.

And this latest revelation certainly doesn’t look great for the platform. Again, it’s pretty obvious that all of these apps employ trackers of some sort. But it’s pretty surprising to see just how much of the tracking on TikTok is done by third-party companies.

Who knows what kind of personal and identifying information is being traded with companies all over the world thanks to the skyrocketing popularity of TikTok.

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Contributing writer with a passion for gaming and tech. Probably getting wrecked by some kids in Rocket League.

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