TikTok’s Third-Party Integrations
By Caroline Wang
June 4, 2021
Assisted by the pandemic and the increasing interest in technology, internet reliance is more prevalent now than ever. Accordingly, TikTok, a video-sharing platform, has seen a surge in popularity these past few years. TikTok’s algorithm and ability to bring new and smaller content creators to the surface makes the app unique and popular. And while the platform’s influence has empowered many younger generations and grown as a whole, TikTok’s recent expansion of integration with third-party apps may have overstepped the boundaries of its power.
What are TikTok’s integrations with third-party apps?
Simply put, a third-party app integration occurs when a business uses a third party’s application program interfaces (APIs) as a means to bring external data from the original source. Instead of creating a whole new interface for the third-party application, they source existing projects and data called Software Development Kits (SDKs) and proceed by integrating them into their own application. TikTok’s developers have created two new integratable toolsets for app developers called the TikTok Login Kit and the TikTok Sound Kit. The Login Kit allows mobile applications or browser platforms to authenticate users using TikTok credentials as well as transfer a user’s public TikTok videos to the new application. This functionality is similar to other social logins offered by Facebook or Snapchat. Meanwhile, the Sound Kit shares music and sounds from TikTok’s own app.
Recently, TikTok has allowed the video dating app Snack to use its Login Kit for its interface. Users can add their public tiktoks to their dating profiles to help them find new matches. Medal, another app that has recently adopted TikTok’s Login Kit, allows gamers to share their clips with one another. These are just a couple among many other applications that have begun integrating the Login Kit. When users sign into these apps using TikTok credentials, they must check an additional permissions box that verifies a user’s consent for the app in question’s access. Currently, the only data third-party apps have access to via the Login Kit is for a user’s profile information and public videos.
On the other hand, the Sound Kit allows artists and creators to bring their original music from third-party apps into TikTok. This kit actually requires the Login Kit to work and helps TikTok source unique music creators that do not require a license from major labels. The hope is that by sharing new music on its platform, TikTok will help creators pique user interest and gain potential fans. Some of the music creation apps that have already adapted the Sound Kit include Audiobridge and Rapchat.
The Privacy Risks of Third-Party Apps
Partnerships with third-party apps may bring benefits like widespread content sharing for smaller creators. However, when third-party apps have access to your online accounts, this poses a security risk especially if they receive excessive permissions. When given access, third-party apps can potentially perform a variety of privacy-breaching actions.
Third-party apps can copy and store data on their own server networks. From there, there’s a higher possibility of third-parties stealing and storing user data in a separate location from its origin. This is concerning because the third-party app may not have the same level of security the original application provides. For example, if a third-party app chose to store data from TikTok users, this would be a risk to their personal privacy.
Third-party apps are able to not only store your data but also share that data with other parties. These parties might include other websites, social media networks, surveys, and advertisers. From the previous example, if that third-party app were to share its collected data with others, the accessibility of a user’s private information could easily be accessed.
Third-party apps may change their agreements and terms of service without notifying users. For example, if a third-party app with access to a user’s TikTok account alters its terms and conditions without notice, the information stored within that TikTok account could be at a greater risk for exposure.
Thus, before allowing a third-party app access to your previous accounts from other applications, it is essential to understand the permissions requested. This means thoroughly reading the terms of service or for visiting this website that provides a condensed summary of account information for major companies. All in all, it’s crucial that you know exactly what you are allowing third-parties access to and when in doubt, simply deny access to your personal information.
While the Sound Kit may genuinely be beneficial for smaller music creators to reach a wider audience, the Login Kit poses a threat to user privacy. Since user data is transferred from one application to another, there is always the risk of stolen user data. Given the increasing number of third-party apps that plan to integrate the Login Kit, the risks listed above only multiply.
An easy way to alleviate the risks that come with account sharing is to partner with humanID. humanID is a one-click anonymous login solution that prioritizes user privacy above everything else. Each user is assigned a unique, non-reversible identifier each time they log in using their phone number. This hashed phone number is deleted immediately upon the verification of a legitimate number. Thus, users will be certain that their data is always protected from outsiders using humanID’s technology. So instead of reaching for TikTok’s SDKs, why not partner with the safest option that is humanID?