The popularity of TikTok among young people has been accompanied by more than one controversy related to privacy and the way it handles data. Owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, this week the western version of the app has received an important change that has gone unnoticed by most because it was not officially announced despite the importance of the changes.
A change big enough!
The big change is a new section that explains how TikTok will be able to collect biometric information, related to the user’s body, even that which can identify them. This data will be obtained directly from the content that the user himself uploads to the social network, such as short videos that constantly go viral. The collection process is automatic and by algorithms that will analyze the video in search of identifying data.
Among the data obtained in this way is information about the faces and voices of the users; in addition, it will also be able to identify the objects and the scene in which the users appear, and the “existence and location” of human bodies. In other words, the TikTok algorithms will be able to analyze and understand the video and record everything that happens and who appears.
More concerning is that TikTok has granted itself these powers without explaining what it wants them for. These data would have very interesting uses, such as algorithms capable of explaining videos for people with visual disabilities; Social networks such as Facebook can also identify the people who appear in the photos to automatically tag them, but that function had to be modified in the EU with the arrival of the new data protection regulation (GDPR).