COLUMBUS, Ohio — TikTok is a social media app that's centered around making short videos and sharing them with friends you're connected to.

But like a lot of social media apps, there are always going to be problems that people did not anticipate.

  • Device usage is even higher than normal with kids out of school
  • TikTok is the most downloaded app on the planet, but continues to get negative headlines
  • Last month, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the U.S. government for illegally collecting children's data.

Computer Science and Cybersecurity expert Matthew Curtin says many privacy issues have come up for the app, which has been downloaded more than a billion and a half times across the globe.

“So it gives away too much information like their location, for example. It actually will take photos and include the location information, and share them openly with people and create a possible opening for stalking, and so on,” said Curtin. 

The Chinese-based app allows users as young as 13 years old to create and share a video, which includes effects. 

Curtin says just because the app is free doesn't mean you won't pay the price with giving the app access to your personal device.

“There is no free lunch. There never was, there never will be. And so what happens now is that people are getting services without paying for them. And the way that it's being monetized is by having somebody collecting information about them, aggregate it, use it in some way that somebody is willing to pay for,” said Curtin. 

Just last month, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the U.S. government for illegally collecting children's data — names, email addresses, pictures and locations—violating the nation's child privacy law.

Keep in mind parental permission is needed if you're younger than 18 years old, and restrictions are in place for a child's usage time on the app, as well as filtering inappropriate material. 

All things considered, Curtin isn't saying to delete the app immediately, but rather, read the terms and conditions and proceed with caution. 

“The ability for the United States to be a free society hinges on no small part in us being secure in our persons, in our effects, in our homes. The real issue is, are you willing to pay for it? If you're not willing to shell out money for something, then you're shelling out something else. And what you're shelling out might be your liberty,” said Curtin.