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How safe is Tik Tok? Local experts and social media influences dial in

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 17:41:14-04

LANSING, MI (WSYM) - — As the Trump Administration weighs the banning of Tik Tok due to its ties with china, local cyber security experts and social media influencers are questioning the safety of the app.

By installing Tik Tok, like many other social media apps, you give it permission to access your camera, microphone, storage and more.

But experts tell Fox 47, this is the time to be aware of the information that it gathers and what it does with the data.

The hugely popular short video app, now being called a security threat.

“This as a project of real scale and real importance,” said Mike Pompeo, the United States Secretary of State. “We must get this right.”

This idea of banning Tik Tok isn’t new.

In December, the U.S. Army banned soldiers from using Tik Tok over security worries.

“It has permission to your GPS location and the military is like ‘that is a bad thing’ because if you have GPS enabled in the app, the company can basically track and know where you are located,” said Jason Mitchell, a LCC professor and an Ethical Hacking Club Advisor.

These latest developments, worrying local social media influencers.

Lansing native, Kristyn Alexis, who now has nearly 200K subscribers on youtube, deleted her Tik Tok account altogether.

“There’s concerns about going into people’s phones without permission, so that was enough for me to bail out,” said Alexis.

Although Mitchell and Alexis don’t have the app themselves, their kids do.

“I have a 15-year-old daughter and she uses Tik Tok where it’s a creative outlet and this is her platform to talk about the things that are driving her,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell suggests parents and users go through permission, location, and privacy settings together to understand what the app has access to.

“I will sit there with them when they use the app on a device that doesn’t have their personal information on it,” said Alexis. But I will say that when you do let your kids go on those apps, you do open them up to everything.”

“Turn off that GPS locator,” said Mitchell. “There is no reason why Tik Tok needs that and just be diligent about what they post.”

You can adjust your privacy under settings in the app.

There you can also read the full permission policies that are agreed upon when you download the app.

Tik Tok is owned by Beijing-based Byte-Dance.

The app has previously said it operates separately from the company.

It also claims its data centers are located outside China and not subject to Chinese law.