With over 1 billion monthly users, TikTok is growing in popularity faster than any social media platform has before. You may be familiar with teenagers learning trendy choreography, but the application surprisingly offers content for people of all ages. TikTok is free for both iOS and Android devices and can also be viewed on any browser.
Popular communities like “BookTok” (where users recommend their favorite reads) and “CleanTok” (where you can watch satisfying deep clean videos and pick up new hacks) are just a few that have made TikTok a favored download.
As many are aware, over the past year there has been news around how TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company, and some security concerns over the Chinese government’s involvement with the application and what personal data is being used by China. You’ll note in our article below, we discuss ways you can reclaim your privacy while using the app.
Now, let’s dive in to what this app is.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a video-focused social media app that allows users to upload short-form content. You scroll up and down through what’s called the “For You Page” which is TikTok’s equivalent of Facebook’s “newsfeed” to watch these videos.
The more you scroll on TikTok, the better it gets to know you. The application is known for its algorithm so the more you watch certain types of videos, the more your feed will reflect the content you like to see.
You can browse videos without an account, but you’ll have to create one in order to make your own videos or save other ones you see as you scroll or search.
Here are 3 reasons you might want to download TikTok today:
1. Find tips and how-to’s
The TikTok discover feature allows you to browse popular videos and search for any topic you can think of.
- Search “how to peel ginger” and you’ll find TikToks with the tip to use a spoon to easily peel off the skin of a ginger root.
- Search #holidayrecipes and you will find contributions from worldwide users showing off their favorite way to make a meal for the holidays.
- Search “skincare” and you can find a new routine with products recommended for every skin type.
- Search “how to keep my dog cool during summer” and you’ll find effective tips.
Once you’ve made a TikTok account, you can “follow,” “like,” “comment,” and “share” videos in a number of ways using the icons on the righthand side of the video.
- Tap the red plus sign icon to follow the account
- Tap the heart icon to “like” a video
- Tap the thought bubble icon with three dots inside to “comment” on a video
- Click “Add comment…” to type your comment, and then tap “send”
- Tap the right arrow button to share the video with friends
- You can share via TikTok, SMS, or via applications like Facebook messenger or Instagram if you already have those installed
- Tap “Save video” to download the TikTok directly to your cell phone
- Tap “Add to Favorites” to bookmark the video
2. Learn a new skill or pick up a new hobby
While teenagers are picking up some new dance moves, you can pick up a new hobby or learn a skill on TikTok.
If you have always wanted to start a garden but aren’t even sure how to plant a flower, you can follow accounts like TannerThePlanter and Garden Marcus. They both offer content that offers simple steps for beginners to keep your plants alive, along with the many accounts on #PlantTok that delve into more advanced gardening.
Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or don’t know how to chop a vegetable, there are TikTok accounts that cover every aspect of cooking.
Over on Cooking with Shereen’s page, you can find delicious recipes along with her “chefie tips” that bring you back to the basics.
3. Discover new activities in any area
One of the advantages of so many users on Tiktok is that you can find quick videos showing off exciting things to do in cities around the world.
- Search “hikes in Utah”
- Search “things to do in South Carolina”
- Search “restaurants in Tampa”
You can try these searches with your own nearby areas and find something that you’ve never discovered close to where you live. Or if you plan to visit a new city, you may be inspired to try a restaurant thanks to a TikTok showing you an appetizing meal.
TikTok’s Privacy Settings
Over the past year there has been news around how TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company, and some security concerns over the Chinese government’s involvement with the application and what personal data is being used by China. Let’s dive into this a bit and discuss ways you can reclaim your privacy while using the app.
- Registration information, such as age, username and password, language, and email or phone number
- Profile information, such as name, social media account information, and profile image
- With permission: payment information if you choose to make or send “gifts” through the app
- With permission: your phone and social network contacts (you can allow access to add your contacts to find friends more easily – but this is optional)’
How to protect yourself on TikTok
While you can’t avoid all of the app’s data collection, that’s the unfortunate reality of social media. The application’s popular algorithm uses the information it collects to work, but there are a few steps you can take to make your account more secure so you can continue to enjoy the app while shielding your identity.
1) Request your Data
See what information TikTok has collected from you:
- Go to Profile
- Tape the 3-line icon in the top right
- Go to Privacy and tap Personalize and data
- Tap Download TikTok Data and follow the provided instructions
2) Make your account private
You can approve who follows you and watches your content, and limit the interactions with strangers on your videos.
- Go to Profile
- Tap the 3-line icon in the top right
- Tap Privacy and Safety
- Click to toggle on Private Account
3) Use a disposable email address
This is a temporary email that is a unique alias to your email address. The latest iPhone operating system offers a way to create a disposable email right on your cell phone:
- Go to Settings
- Tap your name at the top of the page
- Tap iCloud, then Hide my Email (5th row down)
- Click “Create new Address” and Apple will generate a disposable email for – you that will then forward to your personal inbox. If you don’t like the email address, you can click “Use Different Address” that will then generate a new email address.
- After selecting an email address, you can then label your address and make a note to remember what you created it for.
If you don’t use iPhone email, there are websites where you can create free disposable email addresses.
You can also create a new email address on a platform like Gmail, Yahoo, or wherever you prefer to receive emails. Be sure to use a fake name so it won’t be associated with your real contact information.
4) Don’t connect your social media accounts
TikTok offers the ability to connect to other social media accounts like Instagram and Facebook. If you’re nervous about data collection, it’s best to keep your accounts unlinked.
Have you used TikTok yet? What exciting things have you learned? Comment below!