Does TikTok Know Your Location? (Basic Facts)

When signing up for a new app or service on your phone or computer, you may worry that your personal information is being collected or leaked.

We are usually under this impression because we see very specific advertisements and marketing campaigns that hit a little too close to home.

The idea that information could be leaked is a concern for many people who spend most of their time online. Most worry that apps like TikTok has their personal information, but is that the case?

Does TikTok know your location?

The short answer is yes. TikTok automatically collects information from you when you start on the platform. These are your IP Address, geolocation-related data, browsing/search history, cookies, and device identifiers – not including your personal address.

In this article, we will explore the ways that apps like TikTok can gather your personal information.

What Location Details Does TikTok Track on Users?

TikTok uses your geographical location in order to help you see videos of other users in your region of the world.

The geographic location and region of your phone are used to connect you with people who share your culture, language, and honestly, who know the same jokes and music as you.

That is not to say that some cultural references aren’t universally known, but mostly TikTok tries to connect you to your like-minded peers.

Your actual exact location and address are not collected and cannot be distributed by the app.

How Does TikTok Track Your Location?

According to the TikTok privacy policy, the app collects your location information based on your phone’s SIM card and/or IP address.

They also can track your GPS if you give them permission.

Your IP address, browsing history on the TikTok app, mobile carrier, and time zone settings are something that TikTok collects as “technical information” from your phone itself.

This data is easily accessed by mobile apps and is usually collected by almost anything you download from the app store, depending on its needs.

If you want to remove this from your TikTok features, you would have to deny permissions on your phone. However, it might be harder for the TikTok algorithm to find people in your language or region to show you their content.

Furthermore, TikTok uses your location information to provide you with location-based services such as advertisements or content by your peers and people in your home region.

Having the geo setting turned on does not mean that Tik Tok will use more battery or storage on your phone.

Can You Block TikTok From Doing Geo-Targeting?

According to the TikTok privacy policies and legal information, there is a way to stop TikTok from using your phone location for geo-targeting (see references below for more details).

“You can switch off GPS location information functionality on your mobile device if you do not wish to share GPS information.” – TikTok Privacy Policy

If you want to make sure that TikTok can’t use your location, you will need to make sure that you switch off the GPS location information and location services via the settings on your phone.

Does TikTok Know Where You Live?

TikTok does not know your exact location nor your address.

When you sign up for the app, the region you provide is the one that TikTok pairs you with, along with many other users and creators in that region.

However, even though TikTok knows your general region, they do not have access to your address, as that is not the information that you provide.

Furthermore, while TikTok has the ability to use GPS features on your mobile device, you have the ability to turn that off. When you start up your TikTok account, your profile is automatically set to public.

If you would like to make any changes to your profile – such as opting out of GPS location tracking, you must change that in the user settings.

What is Location-Based Data Used For on TikTok?

TikTok will use your location-based data in order to try and advertise things to you that are popular in your region and are meant to be seen by individuals in your demographic.

No apps are legally allowed to use your incredibly specific information for nefarious reasons, nor can they share it with companies or advertising agencies. This would include your email, phone number, or age.

Furthermore, since they do not ask for your personal address, the app cannot find and then use that information.

That being said, they do give the general region that you have provided to advertising sites and agencies to reach the optimal population for their ads or services that help the app make money.

Millions of other users in your region may also see the same ads based on the location information that has been provided at the setup of the app.

Can You See the Location of Other Users on TikTok?

Your information and the information of others is not visible on your profile, even if your TikTok profile is set to “public.”

Users cannot see your phone number, location, email address, or age. However, they are able to see all videos that you post to the app when your profile is listed as “public.”

Your user permission settings are very easy to change and update, so you can edit who can send you comments, who can “duet” or create videos with you, and who can send messages or react to your videos.

These are all customizable to your preferences and allow you to create the TikTok atmosphere that you are looking for.

While some users prefer to be as public and “out there” as possible, there are some users who would rather only make videos that can be seen by their friends.

Most of all, if you were to follow someone on TikTok that you really like, there would be no way to discern where they are in the world unless the user themselves mentioned it in a public video.

Can You Ask TikTok to Delete All Location-Based Data on You?

According to TikTok’s privacy policy, yes!

You can request a lot from TikTok in regards to deleting your information, as well as to turn off their capabilities. You must send a request for deleting your information to the email or physical address provided by the TikTok team.

The team will respond to your request as soon as they can, but the timeline at this moment is unknown.

Some things that you can customize to your liking are:

  • Disable or Delete Cookies (may affect the functionality of TikTok platform on your phone)
  • Manage Third-Party Advertising
  • Opt-Out of Targeted Ads
  • Opt-Out of Marketing Emails (“unsubscribe”)
  • Switch Off GPS Location Information
  • Access, Review and Update your Personal Information at all times

If you are interested very concerned about your personal information, make sure to keep a close eye on your profile and read the Privacy Policy that TikTok provides.

How Do You Change Your Location on TikTok?

If you moved, no longer want to be considered in a certain region, or are just interested in content from all over the world, you may consider changing your location on TikTok.

Changing your location region on TikTok is available in your account settings and available features.

You can update your information at any time using this part of your account settings without penalty.

You can also switch your “public” or “private” status on your account settings as well to evade prying eyes from strangers.

Final Thoughts:

If you are worried about your personal information being posted to the internet, fear not!

Most applications only require your email, phone number, and a name you want to show to the public in order to sign up and use their program.

Often it is very rare that you need to provide any personal information that could help someone locate you.

There are laws and regulations in place that protect your very specific information from prying eyes, as well as prevent apps like TikTok from distributing or posting that information somewhere.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t always a potential for danger.

Anything you post on your videos or to your profile that includes your location, hometown, or personal information will still be seen by public viewers, so don’t post anything that might be harmful to you!

Furthermore, your information may not be used for nefarious reasons, but you will still be targeted for region-specific advertisements and marketing companies.

Finally, if you want to use apps on your phone, make sure you do research into the privacy policies and regulations of that app so you know exactly what kind of potential information leaks you could be looking at!

References:

TikTok Privacy Policy and Legal Information – Website

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