Control your privacy series: Discover what TikTok knows about you and learn how to limit the information it gathers

Cristina POPOV

February 02, 2024

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Control your privacy series: Discover what TikTok knows about you and learn how to limit the information it gathers

Even without posting anything, using the free app means trading your own information while potentially exposing details about yourself to others. Much like any other platform, there's no way to completely block TikTok from learning about you unless you delete the app. However, you can significantly reduce the amount of data it collects.

Start by keeping a low profile on TikTok—especially if you're a silent observer rather than a content creator. You can take a few steps to enhance your privacy, such as avoiding using your full name in your profile, refraining from providing your phone number or regular email address and setting your account to Private, allowing you to approve who follows you.

If you initially missed tuning your privacy settings, it's not too late. Begin by checking what TikTok has collected about you. Then, follow the recommended steps to strengthen your privacy measures.

Discover what TikTok knows about you so far

To access all the data the app has collected about you, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Profile.
  2. Click on the three lines in the upper-right corner.
  3. Navigate to Settings and Privacy.
  4. Select Account.
  5. Choose 'Download Your Data.'

You will receive information about your profile, activity, and app settings in a format of your choice. Keep in mind that the request may take several days to process. Once your file is ready, you will have up to 4 days to download it.

How to limit the information TikTok collects about you in the future

The next step you can take for your privacy protection is to limit the information you give away in the future. For this, you can take three simple actions:

Stop sharing your contacts. Avoid sharing your phone contacts or linking TikTok with your Facebook account. This information can reveal details about you and those saved on your device. If you can find friends through search instead of providing TikTok access to your entire friends list.

To check your current settings, open the app, click on your profile, then access the three lines in the top right corner. Navigate to Settings and Privacy → Privacy → Sync Contacts and Facebook Friends. If you've already synced your contacts, remove them here to cut off access.

Limit ad personalization. While this won't stop TikTok from targeting ads, it limits the information used for this purpose.

Go to Settings and Privacy → Privacy → Ads Personalization and make sure the toggle for "Use of Off-TikTok Activity for Ad Targeting" is turned off and gray.

Limit how people can find you. If you prefer not to be discovered by real-world acquaintances on TikTok, go to Settings and Privacy → Privacy → Suggest Your Account to Others. Ensure all four toggles are turned off and are gray, not green. This prevents people you know from being suggested as followers. Note that the app can still recommend users to you based on information shared by others.

For an extra layer of protection, consider Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection. This tool sends you timely breach alerts and suggests practical actions to reduce your digital footprint. With Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection, you're not just protected – you're empowered to manage your data and enjoy safer and more secure online experiences.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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