In fact, the study found that YouTube mostly collects your personal data for its own purposes to serve you more relevant ads. On the other hand, TikTok mostly allows third-party trackers to collect your data — “and from there, it’s hard to say what happens with it,” reports CNBC. The report noted:
“With third-party trackers, it’s essentially impossible to know who’s tracking your data or what information they’re collecting, from which posts you interact with to your physical location and any other personal information you share with the app. As the study noted, third-party trackers can track your activity on other sites even after you leave the app. “
The URL Genius used the Record App Activity feature from Apple’s iOS to conduct the research. They counted how many different domains track a user’s activity across 10 different social media apps — YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger and Whatsapp. The data was collected from users over the course of one visit, before they even log into their accounts.
YouTube and TikTok got 14 network contacts apiece, significantly higher than the study’s average number of six network contacts per app. The study also noted that numbers might be higher for users who are logged into accounts on those apps.
Moreover, the study found that ten of YouTube’s trackers were first-party network contacts. This, in fact, means that the platform was tracking user activity for its own purposes. Four of the contacts were from third-party domains, meaning the social platform was allowing a handful of mystery outside parties to collect information and track user activity.
TikTok results were even more surprising: 13 of the 14 network contacts on the popular social media app were from third parties. The third-party tracking still happened even when users didn’t opt into allowing tracking in each app’s settings, according to the study.