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  • Writer's pictureGwyneth

TikTok's Stalking Feature

The Australian Privacy Watchdog currently has TikTok under investigation. As we have shared on numerous occasions, there are some big risks with TikTok use. This investigation confirms that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) agrees: “We are considering privacy concerns raised in the Internet 2.0 report in line with our regulatory action policy.”

The OAIC said, "platforms and apps must be transparent in how they treat their users’ data and protect their privacy, particularly for vulnerable users such as children, and should only collect the reasonably necessary information to deliver the service.TikTok checks its users’ device location at least once an hour; continuously requests access to contacts even if the user originally denies it; maps a device’s running apps and all installed apps; and more as part of broad permissions asked of users"

We thought it would be appropriate to explain how a teen uses TikTok and another creepy feature of the app that is being exploited by many.

This by Gwyneth - 17yrs.

Let me paint a picture for you: You are at a mixed school event where you are introduced to several like-minded students within your year group who you instantly get on with. Afterward, you realise, much to your dismay, that you did not grab their name or details and worry that this now means you will not be able to speak with them again. Insert social media! Your modern-day superhero is here to save the day.

You grab your phone, start looking up the event you attended, and then scroll through the users following the account. Halfway down the list, you notice a recognisable face and realise it was the keynote speaker at the event. Clicking on their account, you start looking through their posts and find one with a comment saying: "wow, you're amazing!" Clicking on this account, your search has finally started to pay off, for the commenter is none other than one of your newly met friends. However, the search is not complete just yet. You head to their recent post and notice it was taken at the event featuring the friends you were with and all their handles! You briskly follow each person and then spend the next two hours scrolling through each of their accounts, learning more about your friends via their social media accounts and the content they create.

Depending on who you are, this may appear highly absurd or a very logical way to find people online. For me, and I assume quite a lot of Gen Z's, this is a relatively routine that is undergone, something that, more and more, is becoming a normal part of the human experience. And due to the increasing trend of stalking other users' social media accounts, popular apps such as TikTok have responded to this trend in their unique ways, which leads me to the climax of this post...How do social media, specifically TikTok, take advantage of the 'stalking' culture?

This feature is not new and can already be seen on LinkedIn. However, as TikTok has recently reinstated the viewer's list, let us consider why we should or should not get behind this. This would be handy advice for an aspiring content creator hoping to work with brands on TikTok by promoting their business through their account. Users could use the function to monitor whether brands were viewing their performance and then proceed to get in contact with these brands in hopes of partnering on a collab. Another way this could be useful (and please bear with me on this one) is to check whether a love interest has been viewing your account, and you could use this as a way of scoping out their interest in you (just trying to be creative in the different ways this could be used ;D). However, this has not been the update of their dreams for some. Having your 'stalking' tendencies visible for other users to view may be the cause of embarrassment or turn someone off using the app.

How do I set up this function on TikTok? To view the profiles who have recently listed your account, follow these steps:

1. Head onto your TikTok

2. Press on the Profile icon

3. Click on the three-line menu icon on the top right-hand of your screen

4: Select Settings and Privacy

5. Specifically clicking on Privacy, go to Profile Views

6. Lastly, turn the Profile View History toggle on

How do I make sure my Profile View History is turned off?

If you are not wanting to partake in this function and want to ensure that no one is able to view your name on their Profile View History list (which also means you cannot view accounts that have recently clicked on your profile), then follow these steps:

1. Head onto your TikTok 2. Press on the Profile icon

3. Click on the eye icon positioned on the top bar

4. Locate the gear icon and view the options

5. Turn the Profile View History toggle off

6. No one now will be able to see who you have 'stalked' Is the 'Profile View History' worth it?

I do not have this app feature turned on, nor do I believe the function is currently useful because only accounts with the Profile View History in use are collated in your list. Hence, this does not provide an unambiguous representation of every user who has visited your profile. Is there value to this feature in terms of safety? When questioning the reasoning behind viewing who has seen your profile, the only reason I would enable this feature is to monitor who has been visiting my account to ensure that there are no unsafe 'stalkers' trolling my account. Examples would include users creating fake accounts of you by posting the videos you have created and/or users analysing locations you are seen posting in and using this information against you.

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