TikTok stalks you on the web even if you don't have the app

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TikTok is tracking you on the web even if you don’t have the app

TikTok has agreements with many websites to insert web beacons that track user activity, according to a study.

A web beacon placed on a website is an advertising technique well known to web giants such as Google and Meta to track the activities of Internet users online. A study reveals that TikTok collects data with the same type of device on a handful of websites.

The Chinese company ByteDance, behind TikTok, has agreements with a number of ;companies that place these beacons on websites.

Result: Internet users, whether or not they are users of the social network, are tracked on these web pages without their knowledge, and the automatically collected data – potentially sensitive information – is transmitted on behalf of the application.

This was revealed by a study published in the magazine Consumer Reportsand conducted by the company Disconnect, which provides tools to protect against advertising tracking. The research covers 20,000 US websites, some of which may reveal sensitive information, such as religion or health.

Among the sites studied that transmit data to TikTok are finds many web addresses with governmental (.gov), as well as educational (.edu) and agency (.org) suffixes. The search cites Weight Watchers, the United Methodist Church, and Planned Parenthood.

Tracking pixels may collect other data, such as IP address, keystrokes and pages viewed on a website.

Google and Facebook (Meta) use them by afterwards to sell targeted advertisements to Internet users who have, for example, already visited their website. They are also used to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements.

I was genuinely surprised that TikTok trackers are already so prevalent, Consumer Reports told Patrick Jackson, Chief Technology Officer of Disconnect. I think people are conditioned to think Facebook is everywhere and they're going to get their data. I don't think they're making that connection with TikTok yet.

Contacted by Consumer Reports, TikTok says they also use this data for advertising purposes.

“Like other platforms, the data we receive from advertisers is used to improve the effectiveness of our advertisements. »

— A spokeswoman for TikTok

The social network spokesperson clarified that TikTok has mechanisms to prevent the transmission of sensitive data, in particular those of people minor.

How to protect yourself from these tracers? Internet users are suggested to use browsers like Brave, or browser extensions like uBlock that block or break trackers.

With information from Le Monde, and Consumer Reports

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