TikTok’s data privacy issues require a social media plan

The questions U.S. lawmakers have about TikTok’s data privacy practices may cause companies to reconsider how their businesses operate on the platform.

TikTok has over a billion users, a 45% increase from its 689 million users in 2020, according to Statista. Businesses are increasingly joining the popular social media platform to reach new, younger audiences.

“Organizations are turning to popular social media apps like TikTok for advertising,” said Demetrice Rogers, assistant professor at Tulane University School of Professional Advancement.

Yet TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has come under fire in Congress for its questionable data collection practices. Despite repeated assurances during the hearings that TikTok does not collect or share US user data with China, audio leaks from internal TikTok meetings revealed that China-based ByteDance employees routinely access US data. .

In July, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate TikTok for allowing Chinese employees to access U.S. user data. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers from the House Oversight and Energy and Commerce Committees sent a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew requesting documents and communications demonstrating the relationship between TikTok and ByteDance, as well as their data sharing, access and storage practices.

While it is true that ByteDance shares US customer data with the Chinese government, “not only did TikTok misrepresent or provide false testimony about its data management and security practices, but it also endangered the security and privacy of millions of American citizens,” the committee wrote.

In light of the data privacy concerns raised at TikTok, experts are warning companies to think carefully about their social media strategy before connecting to platforms that may affect data privacy.

Prepare a social media strategy

Before joining a social media platform, Tulane University’s Rogers said a company should consider potential privacy issues when advertising on a platform like TikTok and “fully understand the privacy policy.” ‘use of data from TikTok’.

“While the organization might thrive using the platform for advertising, consumers might view the business negatively based on their use of personalized ads,” he said.

A company’s use of social media, including social media marketing, should be part of its overall digital and data innovation strategies, according to Dominque Shelton Leipzig, partner at Mayer Brown and member of the cybersecurity practice. and data privacy. She is also responsible for global data innovation and ad tech privacy and data management.

It is essential that business leaders include digital marketing in their oversight role.

Dominique Shelton LeipzigPartner, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practice Member, Mayer Brown

Shelton Leipzig said some questions executives and directors might ask chief marketing officers in general about using social media include: “Are we communicating brand, value and trust?”, “Our efforts will demonstrate- responsible data management? and “Have we checked the types of ads that may appear next to the context we post?”

“It’s critical for business leaders to include digital marketing in their oversight role,” she said. “The type of things that business leaders need to consider when it comes to using platforms is how the company’s digital footprint matches up with its overall reputation for responsible data stewardship. and trust.”

Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Before joining TechTarget, she was a generalist journalist for the Wilmington StarNews and crime and education reporter Wabash Plain Dealer.

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