TikTok is a video-based social media platform, based out of China. It hosts millions of users and creators on a daily basis and has grown exponentially since its initial release in 2016.
The number of TikTok users is growing at an ever-increasing rate, as the social media platform has a wide range of business and personal uses. However, it should be no surprise that the authoritarian Chinese government accessed the information of TikTok users living in the United States. However, the striking part about this cyberattack is that the Chinese government accessed nonpublic information, meaning private information on individual citizens. Such private information was stored on smartphones and computers simply because the vast majority of the information about one's personal life is entered into such devices.
The public would not know about this improper data access unless recordings were leaked. In fact, audio from nearly 100 TikTok meetings makes it clear that the Chinese company accessed the private information of TikTok users in the United States through the popular ByteDance service. In total, nine TikTok employees made more than a dozen statements revealing the Chinese government accessed the data in question from the fall of 2021 through January of 2022.
This breach occurred from September 2021 to January 2022.
The breach impacts TikTok users based in the United States. However, authoritarian governments such as that controlling the populace of China tend to snoop on other targets. Once the full scope of this unauthorized breach is revealed, we will better understand how many TikTok users were compromised.
The specific number of files compromised in the breach has not been revealed. Those who have studied the Chinese government are adamant that it is safe to assume the heads of the dystopian state likely saved the private data of most, if not all, American TikTok users.