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Cybersecurity expert says TikTok ban ‘underscores the risks posed to consumers’

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As the U.S. Senate considers the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, American lawmakers and authorities continue to respond to the potential ban of social media app TikTok.

The U.S. House passed the legislation yesterday on a vote of 352 to 65.

Marijus Briedis is a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.

“Moves to ban TikTok underscore the risks posed to consumers by a data-hungry app that’s notorious for its intrusive tracking and dubious practices,” Briedis said.

He said TikTok’s history of misconduct has prompted the legislative response by American politicians.

“Many governments are now seriously assessing the impact of seemingly innocent social media apps like the Chinese-owned platform TikTok. Their global reach and the vast troves of data they harvest have the potential to sway democracies and political processes,” Briedis said.

However, despite concerns for data safety, Briedis said that TikTok users do not have to delete their accounts. They can still enjoy the social media app without allowing data to be stored.

“The simplest step you can take to reduce any risk online is setting your account to private so only people you know and trust can view your content. You can also use the official TikTok website, but in guest mode without being signed in. This lowers the likelihood of identity theft and makes it harder for scammers to contact you.”

He encourages “avid TikTokers” not to include photos of their homes and neighborhoods or views from home windows to avoid anyone figuring out where you live.

“It’s also wise to limit how much you post about your work, family and other personal contacts. The more information you make public, the easier it is for hackers to steal your identity.”

Tracking may be turned off for apps on some devices, according to Briedis, which stops developers from seeing what other sites and apps are visited on the device.

“As an added measure NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature blocks ads, trackers, and malicious websites you can stumble upon while browsing online. This tool will stop the TikTok trackers from following you on your browser. Even though your activity on the app and its in-app browser will still be tracked, everything you do outside of it will be kept private.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.