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How to Make TikTok More Secure, Private, and Safer

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TikTok

 

Do you use TikTok? I’ll be upfront and admit that I do. I have a feeling that many of you do too. Check out these statistics from Statista:

 

  • TikTok brand value in 2021: Over $43 billion
  • Monthly time the average user spent on TikTok worldwide in 2021: 19.6 hours a month
  • Number of TikTok users in the U.S.: over 130 million
  • Since its launch in 2017 it has consolidated its global audience and increased its first-time installs by almost 400 percent year-over-year, reaching 740 million new users in 2021.

 

Let’s face it, TikTok is both huge and growing. It is truly the little engine that could and has taken the world by storm. This powerhouse of a social platform does beg some very important questions from its users though.

 

Are you ok with the Chinese government having the ability to track your location and having access to personal information about your life? Are you ok with TikTok collecting your information for targeted ads? I believe that the honest answer to the second question is that most of us might complain about targeted advertising but we are willing to tolerate it. Why else would so many of us have active accounts with the likes of Facebook, Google, and Twitter? Of course we shouldn’t be so tolerant of our privacy being invaded but here we are. But the first question should raise all of our eyebrows.

 

In China companies are required by law to allow the government to access user data whenever they want and that without a warrant. Disturbing but true. TikTok is owned by a company called ByteDance. ByteDance is headquartered in China. What does that mean for you? That the Chinese government can access your physical location and whatever information you share on TikTok whenever they want. TikTok collects data on what device you are using, your location, your face and voice prints, search history, interactions with other accounts, what you watch, and who you know. That is a massive amount of data.

 

Ok, let’s be real here. Even after everything you just read most of you aren’t going to delete your TikTok accounts. The truth is neither am I. TikTok is extremely addictive and most of us are hooked. In all honesty TikTok does some wonderful things:

 

  • It provides a great platform for people to share their thoughts.
  • It can be a fantastic way for people to give and share the encouragement, hope, and help that others are deeply in need of.
  • It is an effective way for artists to share their gifts with the world whether they they sing, play an instrument, dance, paint, or whatever else their talent may be.
  • It is a great platform to teach others how to do something.
  • It makes it easy to learn how to do something.
  • It makes it easy to find things to do and places to go in your area.

 

If at this point you want to delete your TikTok account I completely understand. However in this article I am going to show you how to increase your accounts security, privacy, and overall safety so you can continue enjoying those ever so addictive short videos.

 

What is TikTok?

 

TikTok is a social platform that allows users to create, watch, and share short videos. The theme of the videos could be music, dance, comedy, politics, art, or any number of other things. Creators record or upload video content and the rest of us can scroll through videos, like, comment, and follow TikTokers. In the background the TikTok algorithm makes sure that a never ending stream of video is available at all times. I have to mention here that the algorithm can be uncannily accurate when it comes to feeding you videos that you want to see and respond to.

 

How to Secure Your TikTok Account

 

Start with a good password.

 

I hate to say it but in an age that we should know better too many users still use horrible passwords.

 

Most popular passwords of 2011 Most popular passwords of 2021
 
1. password 1. 123456
2. 123456 2. 123456789
3. 12345678 3. 12345
4. qwerty 4. qwerty
5. abc123 5. password
6. monkey 6. 12345678
7. 1234567 7. 111111
8. letmein 8. 123123
9. trustno1 9. 1234567890
10. dragon 10. 1234567

 

I mean seriously? After all of the data breaches, identity thefts, and stolen accounts it amazes me that so many people still use weak passwords.

 

Here are some tips to create a good password to protect your TikTok account:

 

  • Make your password no less than eight characters. The longer the password the stronger it will be.
  • Avoid words that you can find in the dictionary.
  • It should include a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. There needs to be at least one of each.
  • It should be unique.

 

Check out “How to Make a Better Password and What Passwords to Avoid” for more information on how to create a strong password.

 

Secure your account with Two-Factor Authentication.

 

Two-Factor Authentication does exactly what the name implies. It requires a second layer of authentication to access your account. If you have set up Two-Factor Authentication, then even if someone successfully gets your login information they still won’t be able to access your account without a code that is sent to your mobile device.

 

Here is how to set it up:

 

  1. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  2. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  3. Tap “Security and login”.
  4. Tap “2-step verification”.
  5. Select whether you want your code sent via text message and/or email.
  6. Select the password option.
  7. Tap “Turn on”.

 

How to Protect Your Privacy on TikTok

 

Before going any further if you would like to read the TikTok privacy policy you can find it here.

 

How to check out some of the information TikTok has already collected about you:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Download your data”.
  6. Select file format.
  7. Tap “Request data”.
  8. It can take time for your download link to be ready. Keep on the lookout for it. Keep in mind that when it does become available you will only have four days before it expires.

 

Stop sharing your contacts with TikTok.

 

The simple truth is that if you don’t want someone to have a list of your contacts then don’t give it to them. On the other hand, syncing your contacts and your Facebook contacts makes it more convenient for you to find your family and friends on TikTok. The choice is yours but if you would like to take away that access here is how to do it:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Sync contacts and Facebook friends”.
  6. Toggle off “Sync contacts”.
  7. Toggle off “Sync Facebook friends”.

 

Disable targeted advertising.

 

Look at it this way, they are going to show you ads no matter what. Every social platform does. Why should you give them your data on top of that? Take the following steps to turn targeted ads off:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Ad personalization”.
  6. Toggle off “Use of off-TikTok activity for ad targeting”.

 

Make your account a private one.

 

If you make your account a private one then only people that you approve can follow you or send you DMs. On top of that only the people that you approve to follow you will be able to see the content you upload. If you are after growing your following you probably don’t want to do this. If on the other hand you want to share your content with a limited audience then take the following steps:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Toggle on “Private account”.

 

Stop TikTok from suggesting your account for others to follow.

 

You will want to do this if you don’t want TikTok telling other users to follow your account. If on the other hand you are a creator you want the follows and might be ok with them suggesting your account to others. If you don’t want them doing so then take the following steps:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Suggest your account to others”.
  6. Toggle off whichever selections you like. You can do all four if you want.

 

Make the videos you like private.

 

For many reasons whether it be protecting your professional reputation, not necessarily wanting everyone you know to know the videos you hit the like button on, or whatever your reason, you may want to keep your likes private. Here’s how to do it:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Liked videos”.
  6. Select “Only me”.

 

Make the list of people that you follow private.

 

This is good advice for your Facebook account as well. It not only keeps which accounts you follow private, it also prevents spammers and identity thieves from accessing your friends list. Just take the following steps:

 

  1. Launch TikTok.
  2. Go to your profile and open the three line menu in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap “Settings and privacy”.
  4. Tap “Privacy”.
  5. Tap “Following list”.
  6. Select “Only me”.

 

General TikTok Safety Tips

 

Here are some general practices that will increase your safety on TikTok:

 

  • Keep the TikTok app updated.
  • Avoid sharing private personal videos. Any video you upload can be downloaded, edited, and re-uploaded by someone else.
  • Be cautious with strangers.
  • Don’t be afraid to block or report others.
  • Keep your phone number private. Having your phone number is the first step to getting into your TikTok account.

 

What to Do if Your Account Has Been Hacked

 

Let’s say the worst case scenario has already happened and your account has been hacked. The first thing you should do is take action immediately and not panic. Take the following steps and recover your account:

 

  1. Reset your password.
  2. Turn on two-factor authentication.
  3. In your TikTok settings remove any unknown devices.

 

The truth is that TikTok is addictive for some very good reasons. It is fun, useful, and gives users a voice. The videos are short so they aren’t a strain on the short attention span many of us have these days. It provides a simple to use creative outlet in a free app that can reach millions of users. As fun and useful as it is, it is still necessary to protect ourselves. Use a good password, turn on Two-Factor Authentication, disable tracking, be careful and guarded with your information, keep your apps and operating system updated, and think before you tap or click. Have fun and be careful out there.

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