Info-tech

Reddit CEO accuses TikTok of being ‘fundamentally parasitic’

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 28, 2020

TikTok dismisses the allegations as baseless

Reddit CEO and co-founder, Steve Huffman, has accused the Chinese short-video app, TikTok, of being “parasitic,” TechCrunch reported on Thursday.

Condemning the app, Huffman said that it was “fundamentally parasitic” and accused it of “always listening” in on its users. On the app’s biometric features, he said the fingerprinting technology used by TikTok was “truly terrifying.”

Huffman expressed his thoughts during a panel discussion on the feature innovations of ByteDance’s TikTok, the report said. He was speaking with former public policy executive, Elliot Schrage, and former Facebook VP of Product, Sam Lessin, at an event called Social 3030.

The report quotes Huffman as saying: “I actively tell people, ‘Don’t install that spyware on your phone.’”

A TikTok spokesperson said the “baseless” allegations were made “without a shred of evidence,” TechCrunch reported.

TikTok troubles

A study by Check Point Research in January had found multiple vulnerabilities in the mobile app. Private videos of users, including teenagers and kids, were found to be at risk of being leaked through a spoofed SMS message to the user.

Further, the attacker could send a malicious link to users, which when clicked would enable the attacker to manipulate content in the user’s TikTok account, including deleting videos, uploading unauthorised videos, and making private or "hidden" videos public.

In an earlier report published before the disclosure of the CheckPoint study, Luke Deshotels, PhD, TikTok Security Team, had said the company was committed to protecting user data and all reported issues had been resolved in the latest version of their app.

The short-video platform had also come under the scanner in November 2019 when a Democrat in the US Senate, Chuck Schumer, had asked the US military to investigate possible risks in the military’s use of the popular video app for recruiting American teenagers, according to a Reuters report.

In December 2019, amid the security probe, a California college student, in a lawsuit, accused the social media app of transferring private user data to servers in China , according to media reports.

The Chinese short-video app has over 200 million users in India. It had clocked over 60 million installs in September 2019, becoming the most downloaded social media app worldwide, with India topping the list with 44 per cent of downloads, according to previous reports.

Published on February 28, 2020

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