PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s a push in Washington to ban use of the popular app TikTo here in the U.S.
This comes as the Trump administration cites national security concerns for the app’s association with China.
But is it really dangerous?
Cyber security experts tell KDKA TikTok is dangerous to our personal data, but so are other apps we use.
TikTok currently has a nearly five-star rating in the Apple App Store. The app is known for its fun filters and prides itself on being the premier place for video sharing.
The app is free.
But Patrick Juola, Cyber Security professor at Duquesne University said everything comes with a cost.
“Look for the product. If you can’t figure out what the product is, you are the product,” said Juola.
Even if you don’t have the app open, tech experts said the app may still be watching and listening to you. And chances are, you gave it permission.
Once downloaded, the app requests access to your device’s camera and microphone.
Granting these permissions gives users access to its features while the app gets access to your private information. That information gets sold and used for ads. The app also tracks the videos users interact with on the app.
“You can always turn off these permissions but then the app has a tendency to stop working,” said Juola.
“I go on Facebook and what’s the ad of? What you were just looking at on the internet,” says social media Maddie Malone
Maloe and Andi DeMonte are both social media users.
Neither have TikTok but said they are both aware of the app’s reputation for taking user data. They also notice ads on other social media pages from sites they have recently visited or talked about.
“Very off-putting. Nothing’s safe anymore on the internet,” said DeMonte.
Juola said American owned companies like Facebook and YouTube do the same thing. He says the apps are useful to the federal government because it could potentially request access to user data.
Since TikTok is a foreign company, Juola believes talks of a potential ban are simply political.
“Coming down from the president as an anti China talking point,” said Juola.