tiktok threats

Best Ways to safeguard yourself against TikTok threats & security concerns

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PUREVPNSecurityBest Ways to safeguard yourself against TikTok threats & security concerns

TikTok has gained massive popularity since its launch in 2016, becoming one of the most widely used social media platforms globally. However, this also means that TikTok has a wide range of threats, security, and privacy issues you should be aware of.

In this article, we’ll discuss these issues that explain why TikTok may be unsafe for its users, offer expert solutions to protect yourself on the platform, and much more. So, keep reading!

tiktok threats

The TikTok stats

The US has the most TikTok users worldwide, with an audience totaling 113 million as of January 2023. Following the US’ lead, Indonesia has approximately 110 million users on the platform, and close behind is Brazil, with about 82 million users on TikTok.

The following graph highlights the top 20 countries with the largest audience on TikTok as of January 2023, according to Statista findings:

TikTok threats & security and privacy issues to look out for

While TikTok is relatively safe for average users, it comes with several security and privacy threats, ranging from phishing scams to data harvesting. Some of its competitors have their own set of social media privacy concerts, but TikTok includes several unique risk factors, including possible governmental interference.

The following are some of the TikTok threats, security, and privacy issues you should be aware of while using the platform:

  1. Data breaches

TikTok is one of the prime targets for hackers, making the risk of a data breach on the platform more than just a theory. In August 2022, Microsoft declared that it had found a vulnerability in the platform’s Android app, which could lead to one-click account hijacking.

A few days after Microsoft’s statements, several cybersecurity analysts took to Twitter to reveal a breach of an insecure server, which allowed access to TikTok’s storage. The analysts believed that this storage also contained personal user data.

While TikTok denied all these claims, it did raise several eyebrows of suspecting users wanting to protect their online information. While almost all other social media giants have faced these issues, TikTok’s increasing user base makes it an even greater target for hackers.

Applications, such as TikTok, collect huge amounts of data, and getting into all the types of data collected would be tedious. But some primary data they collect include country information, IP address, videos watched, time spent watching a video, and private messages sent on the platform. 

Furthermore, depending on the access you’ve granted to the app, it can also collect information about your other social network connections, age, phone number, phone location, and phone contacts. According to Patrick Jackson, chief technology officer of privacy company Disconnect, who was hired by the Washington Post, “It doesn’t appear that TikTok takes more data than Facebook but they do take measures to hide what they are collecting.”

  1. Online scams

Signing up for TikTok is quite straightforward, and it doesn’t require any identity verification per se. Consequently, there have been many reports of fake IDs reposting content created by others and even some hacker accounts.

Scammers and hackers on TikTok use malicious URLs and suspicious links, which they plug into their bio or send to their followers, to spread malware or steal private information. While these cybercriminal activities aren’t unique to TikTok, the platform’s relatively younger audience makes it more troublesome and worrying.

  1. The Chinese law

Chinese law requires companies to share user data with the authorities if required. This, coupled with the fact that ByteDance, owner of TikTok, operates under the authority of CCP, raises several privacy concerns amongst users.

  1. The in-app browser

TikTok has an in-app browser that keeps you on the app even after you click a link or an ad. So, instead of browsing on Safari or Chrome, you view different pages on the internet through the TikTok browser.

TikTok can use this internal browser to monitor your behavior on pages and websites not within the application’s purview. Several other social media platforms, such as Instagram, use this type of monitoring, leading to users exposing more than intended to the platform – sometimes without any awareness.

  1. The data-driven algorithm

One of the reasons behind TikTok’s undeniable success is the platform’s For You Page, which also initially set it apart from other platforms. An algorithm curates the videos on the For You Page feed. This algorithm effectively targets each user’s personality and interests after assessing the content types likely to keep a user on the app for relatively longer.

While this algorithm tailors your experience on the app and attempts to enhance your experience while interacting with it, it also raises several privacy concerns. The app generates significant amounts of user data through logging and monitoring for the algorithm to work efficiently.

The company builds a user profile, which includes several variables such as political leanings and interests. This type of profiling raises moral issues and data breach concerns. It could take only a single data breach on TikTok for all your information to fall into the wrong hands. So, how safe is your private information on the platform?

  1. Unclear use of data

It’s extremely tricky to determine what happens with the user data on TikTok, where it’s stored, and who has access to it. An investigative report by Forbes revealed that ByteDance planned to use the platform to monitor specific American citizens’ locations. Independent researchers find it difficult to map the data flow on TikTok due to the highly complex algorithms and technical measures used to encode the platform’s activities.

A Reddit user claimed to have reverse-engineered TikTok and stated, “TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device… well, they’re using it.” Here’s a snippet of what the user shared:

  1. Hacking attempts

With TikTok’s access to device information and user data, it could become an avenue for bad actors who want to access others’ private information. For example, the app’s vulnerabilities may be exploited by hackers to access sensitive information, including user data.

The Microsoft report mentioned earlier also stated that attackers may use the platform to send malicious links to users, which could lead to the installation of malware on their devices. This puts individual users and businesses at risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.

The effects of trolling and shaming on TikTok

TikTok is available in 75 languages and 155 countries, attracting millions of young users worldwide who spend countless hours watching and creating videos. The registered users on the platform can comment on anything they come across.

However, with massive monthly active users, bullying and shaming have become inevitable – much like on other social media platforms. What’s more intriguing is that most of the hate and negative comments received on the platform come from a relatively younger audience, aged between 12 and 14.

Cyberbullying can harm both the individuals who are being targeted and the overall community on TikTok. It can create a hostile environment that discourages engagement and participation. Some users have also reported feelings of insecurity and anxiety caused by harassment and personal attacks on the platform.

Such interactions can also harm the users’ mental health and well-being. Feelings of self-doubt, embarrassment, and shame are persistent among cyberbullying victims. While it may seem like trolling and shaming are isolated, rare incidents on TikTok, such behavior is quite widespread.

In 2023, a survey of students in the UK using TikTok found that about 23% had experienced some type of cyberbullying. The most common forms of reported trolling are typically abusive, negative, and mocking or demeaning comments.

Another study found that almost 64% of kids who use TikTok have experienced some form of online bullying, with offensive name-calling being the most common form of bullying. The impact of trolling and shaming can be significant for some.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 37% of US adults who have experienced online harassment said it had a major impact on their emotional or mental health. Furthermore, a UK survey by the Royal Society for Public Health found that social media platforms, such as TikTok, can increase body image issues.

Make your TikTok experience a delight with PureVPN

PureVPN is the number one choice for several users who want to use TikTok without any restrictions, no matter where they are, in just a few quick and easy steps. Using PureVPN is quite simple; you only have to connect to a server in a region where TikTok is accessible.

The VPN reroutes your IP address to a remote server, protecting your information from cybercriminals and even your ISP with high-grade AES 256-bit encryption. In addition, PureVPN ensures relatively higher internet speeds by connecting you to the best servers based on your location.

Some other benefits of using PureVPN for TikTok include:

Other methods of keeping yourself safe against TikTok threats

Some users have taken extreme measures and deleted their TikTok accounts to maintain security and privacy. However, if you want to continue using the app, there are several steps you can take to ensure your online safety and protection against cybercriminals.

In addition to using PureVPN, you can take the following steps to ensure complete online safety and security while using TikTok:

  1. Think twice about the content you’re sharing

When sharing videos on TikTok, ensure you’re not including any images or footage of your home or neighborhood. Avoid posting content that can be used to pinpoint your location. Furthermore, you should also limit what you post about your family, work, or other personal contacts. Such information can make it easier for hackers to target you and use it to plot phishing attacks against others.

  1. Consider setting your profile to private

You don’t have to make your TikTok profile publicly visible to enjoy the platform to its full extent. You can still enjoy everything the platform offers with a private profile. Go to your account’s privacy settings and set your profile to private to ensure that only people you know and trust can see what you’ve shared. Doing this will keep you safe from prying eyes and lower the chances of identity theft by limiting who can contact you.

Here’s how to set your account to private on TikTok:

  • Open your profile page
  • Click the three dots in the right-hand corner
  • Select “Privacy and Settings”
  • Choose the “Privacy and Safety” option
  • Toggle the “Private Account” option on
  1. Be careful when clicking on links and URLs

Don’t click on links and URLs shared with you via direct message or linked to a profile bio without verifying the account’s authenticity. Large creators are typically verified on the platform, which can be confirmed via the blue tick next to their names.

A hacker’s account will likely be unverified, and they may not allow others to comment on their content to avoid anyone else exposing them. Furthermore, since hackers operate from several different profiles, they might not have posted much content, and their profiles may also be relatively newer.

  1. Take appropriate steps for complete privacy and safety

In addition to setting your profile to private and using strong and unique passwords, you can also control who can comment on your TikTok posts, whether or not others can download your content, and who can create duets with you. You can also report a user, comment, or video on the platform if you suspect malicious activities and avoid interacting with harmful and inappropriate content.

Moreover, you can also limit the information you’re sharing on the application by unlinking your Facebook and Instagram accounts. While investing in another device may not be feasible, you can use a sandboxing app or a VPN to use TikTok securely. You must also update the app to the latest version available to benefit from security patches.

You can also completely anonymize yourself with a secondary email address for your TikTok profile. While not a reliable option, some users enter fake names and birth dates onto the platform to further anonymize their profiles.

Is TikTok the right platform for kids?

You can join TikTok if you’re 13 or older. However, we’d advise parents to be careful when allowing their children to use TikTok. One of the primary reasons for this is that TikTok’s algorithm may recommend inappropriate content to them, and it’s almost impossible to guarantee they’ll only be exposed to age-appropriate content.

Furthermore, strangers can directly contact younger users via the direct messaging function if the profile isn’t private. Therefore, as soon as your child creates a profile on TikTok, make sure that its default privacy settings are changed from public to private.

You can also use the Family Pairing feature offered by the platform to connect your account with your kids and oversee their activities and For You Page suggestions.

Why have some countries banned TikTok?

TikTok has faced numerous bans and blocks in various countries. Most of these were imposed because of the shared content’s nature and not because of threats or security concerns. However, in 2019, more countries banned TikTok due to security, data breach, censorship, and propaganda concerns.

Some countries that have banned the app include Turkmenistan, North Korea, Armenia, Artsakh, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Recently, Australia has also raised concerns regarding the platform’s security and privacy issues. In some countries that have banned TikTok, the ban is partial, allowing restricted access to certain app features.

You can avoid all regional limitations with the help of PureVPN, which has 6,500 servers in 71 different locations, granting you access to every version of TikTok from anywhere in the world. Furthermore, it hides your IP address and assigns a new IP address for your connection to ensure your online identity, activity, and traffic remain safe and anonymous.

Frequently asked questions

Can I access TikTok from anywhere?

Yes, it’s possible to access TikTok from anywhere with the help of a VPN, such as PureVPN. VPNs can help you bypass regional limitations, allowing you to use any version of TikTok from anywhere in the world.

How can I unblock TikTok with a VPN?

You can access TikTok without any regional limitations with the help of a VPN. Simply download PureVPN, turn it on to secure your connection, and download and use TikTok.

Can TikTok detect my location?

Yes, TikTok uses GPS, IP address, and SIM card information for location tracking. Once you sign up for the platform, you’re prompted to authenticate yourself with a phone number, which can be used to detect your location. Moreover, some versions of its software track location automatically through the location tags on posts.

Should I change my location on TikTok?

Whether or not you should change your location on TikTok is entirely up to you. However, you must note that doing so has several advantages. For starters, changing your region or location can secure your privacy and grant you access to content from outside your location. Moreover, if you’re a content creator, it can help increase your followers.

Will a free VPN work for TikTok?

Free VPNs lack the security and performance available in paid VPNs, such as PureVPN. They offer limited locations, often collect your personal data, and monitor your online activity. Furthermore, free VPNs impose bandwidth limits or data caps, hindering your TikTok experience. 


Whether you want to bypass regional limitations or add an extra layer of security to your TikTok account, a VPN is always a good option. It protects your privacy across various social media platforms, helps avoid ISP throttling, and protects your devices from malware. Download PureVPN today to enjoy a safe, secure, private TikTok experience.




March 15, 2023


1 year ago

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