If you’re a TikTok user, you’ll have accepted the ‘Terms of Service’ before you ever liked a single video on the platform. The wording is long-winded and full of legal terms, which is why few people ever read it.

But if you don’t, you won’t know how much information you’ve signed away. There are the more obvious things TikTok will know about you, including your IP address, search history, what you’re viewing and for how long.

But there are various other personal details you probably weren't aware TikTok already knows. Oliver from CyberNut discusses the data TikTok is collecting most likely about you.

What does TikTok know about you?

Oliver says: "The Terms of Service, when accepted, enable TikTok to access your phone contacts and calendars. This is in addition to the information asked for when setting up and using your account."

Like many other social media apps, this means TikTok has:

  • Your email address and phone number.

  • Your date of birth and profile information.

  • Your browser and search history.

TikTok can study the kinds of videos you’re viewing and how long you use TikTok for. Oliver also claims TikTok assesses the content of your own videos, including the scenery, objects, and words spoken.

Why does TikTok gather this information?

Social media companies, such as TikTok, may often harness user data to improve their programs and tailor the content you see to your preferences (including by targeting you with personalized ads). TikTok can request to use GPS data and biometric (face and voice) information to enhance the user experience by further targeting you with ads or content.

Oliver says: "Camera and microphone access is needed for creating and uploading photos and videos. Some keystroke patterns or rhythms are recorded for ‘security and performance purposes’ - though it’s not always entirely clear what these are."

What can TikTok see?

According to Oliver, TikTok can:

  • Read your private messages.

  • Edit your post content for any reason.

  • Unexpectedly remove your content without reason.

  • Collect, share, and use your location data.

Similarly to other social media platforms, TikTok has the capability to read and track direct messages to ensure compliance with its terms of service and community guidelines.

What does TikTok say?

As part of TikTok's privacy policy, the app collects the following information:

  • Profile Information
  • User Content
  • Direct Messages
  • Your Contact
  • Purchase Information
  • Surveys, Research, and Promotions
  • Technical Information
  • Location Information
  • Usage Information
  • Content Characteristics and Features
  • Inferred Information
  • Cookies

There is also a section on the TikTok website that details how the app shares your information with service provides and third party platforms and partners.

How to download your data:

You can request a copy of your TikTok data, which may include but is not limited to, your username, video history, comment history, and privacy settings.

To request your TikTok data:
1. In the TikTok app, tap Profile at the bottom.
2. Tap the Menu button at the top, then tap Settings and privacy.
3. Tap Account.
4. Tap Download your data.
5. Select a file format, then tap Request data.

After you submit your request, we'll create a file of your data that you can download from the Download your data tab. We'll notify you in the app when it's ready to download. Please note that it may take a few days to prepare the file.

To download your TikTok data:
1. In the TikTok app, tap Profile at the bottom.
2. Tap the Menu button at the top, then tap Settings and privacy.
3. Tap Account.
4. Tap Download your data.
5. Tap Download data at the top. From here, you can see the status of your request. When your file is ready, it'll be available to download for up to four days.

How to look after your privacy

Here are Oliver’s key tips to protect your privacy on social media apps like TikTok:

  • Study the Terms of Service (or read online explanations of them) to see what data you’re giving up

  • Turn off personalized ads to stop them from tracking and targeting you

  • Manage TikTok permissions and Location Services to block what the app can access

  • Make your account private and hide your activity status

  • Turn off contacts syncing so TikTok can’t look at your contacts and calendar

  • Limit TikTok’s data collection using other privacy-focused smartphone apps or web browser plugins

Oliver says: "Your data is safest if you don’t share it on apps such as TikTok. Not being connected on these social media platforms can be a challenge in this day and age, however - especially if you need to use TikTok for your job or business. By taking the above steps, however, you can enjoy its content with enhanced protection."