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Once TikTok was appreciated for the anonymity offered to users. Anonymity in the sense that users could build their own TikTok universe. It wasn’t about networking with real contacts (as it is primarily the case with Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). But about the creative and personal security, based on the virtual avatar.

TikTok’s algorithms have been heavily criticized for some time now

TikTok’s algorithms have long been under heavy criticism for their lack of transparency.

Data storage on internal hard disks (traceability excluded), already put the company in a severe predicament. It did not, however, bring down the social media giant.

Recently, users keep criticizing that your privacy is being violated.

People follow them, see content that reveals private data, and users can’t track how real-life contacts found them on TikTok. Not only is privacy being violated, no, users are basically being stripped of their ability to act.

What users liked about the app was a certain anonymity and the app’s centralization on anonymous sharing of creative content. In short, creative networking.

Sharing a video link accesses contacts

Meanwhile, it is clear how the TikTok identity of people is revealed. If a TikTok user shares a video from TikTok via another social media (via link as a message), the user URL is stored in the link. As soon as the link recipient clicks on the link, he receives the sender’s profile information.

This algorithm is new and is not used by any other social network.

Most users who share a video are not aware that the recipient automatically has access to their profile information.

Also, senders of a link get an information once the receiver has seen the video.

So TikTok’s people tracking works mainly through links.

Networking via telephone number

When adding a phone number to the TikTok account, the user profile is automatically suggested to the user contacts (who also have a TikTok account). If a person has a TikTok account and your phone number, it is very likely that they will find you on TikTok (regardless of whether you have your phone number stored on TikTok).

Mutual-Friends Networking

If two users follow the same person (or one person has two equal followers) these users are suggested to each other.

TikTok aims to centralize contacts (and same interests) in the TikTok world.

This algorithm is based on the principle: “People you might know.” (Facebook and Instagram also use this algorithm).

Thus, a person is suggested to you, whom you may know from real life, but whose user name was unknown to you.

Person uses TikTok app
Photo from Pexels (c) cottonbro

How to prevent others from finding your TikTok account

If you want to avoid your personal data being tracked and forwarded, you should change your privacy settings.

So that neither your saved contacts, Facebook contacts and mutual friends can be accessed, disable access to your contacts and delete your phone number.

If you have activated this before, you can also delete your contacts and data afterwards (you have to go to Privacy in the TikTok app -> Sync contacts and Facebook friends -> Delete data).

Take care – even if you exhibit them, accounts you follow may have your profile suggested.

For the ultimate privatization of your account, you disabled any tracking and marked your account as private. This way, only users you accept as followers can watch your videos and thus see information about your usage behavior (because your followers can see who you follow).

Arbitrary algorithms
Photo from Pixabay (c) markusspiske

What is the goal behind TikTok’s algorithms

The market value (and also the power of an app within the social media ecosystem) is determined by the user behavior.

The more time a user spends on an app, the higher the probability that app-internal content (advertising, etc.) will be seen. The degree of influence increases exponentially to increased usage behavior.

TikTok’s goal, then, is for a user’s real world to integrate with the virtual world of the app. The former “privacy” and “anonymity” of TikTok, is no longer given primarily due to the inclusion of the URL (the account URL) in shared links.

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