Mobile marketing firm URL Genius conducted a study that found out that YouTube and TikTok collect the most data, compared to other social media apps. YouTube mostly collects data for its own use. But TikTok shares almost all the data it collects with third parties, and it’s not clear where the data goes.
URL Genius recorded app activity on iOS to conduct the study. They used the feature to record how many domains track users’ activity across 10 social media apps. The study was conducted for one visit, without even logging in.
TikTok and YouTube had 14 network contacts each, topping all other apps as the average number of network contacts was 6. The study noted the figures could be higher for users who have logged into their accounts.
Ten of YouTube’s trackers were first-party network contact; the platform uses the trackers for its own gain. Still, the Google-owned platform is allowing at least four third parties to track users’ activity.
The results are worse for TikTok as only one of the 14 trackers is first party.
The issue with third-party trackers, according to the study, is that they are able to track user activity even when the user is not using the specific app. Additionally, it is difficult to know who is doing the tracking and how much data they are collecting.
TikTok has faced criticism in the past because of its data collection policies. The platform, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has also been accused of storing users’ data in Chinese servers, where the data is vulnerable to the Chinese government.