Reddit CEO Says TikTok Is ‘Fundamentally Parasitic’ Spyware

Reddit  CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman said the Chinese social media app TikTok is "fundamentally parasitic" spyware.

iStockphoto / Wachiwit

TikTok is known for being a place for demonstrating how much wealth Jeff Bezos has using rice, or watching an 81-year-old man making sandwiches, or teens attempt to mind-numbing viral stunts such as the asinine Skull Breaker Challenge, the dangerous Salt Challenge, and the Slapping Your Mom’s Breasts Challenge. But according to the Reddit CEO, the most hazardous aspect to TikTok has nothing to do with any internet pranks.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman warned others about aspects of TikTok that many aren’t talking about. During a Silicon Valley conference last week, Huffman pointed out how TikTok is a “fundamentally parasitic” spyware.

“Maybe I’m going to regret this, but I can’t even get to that level of thinking with them,” Huffman said. “Because I look at that app as so fundamentally parasitic, that it’s always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone.”

“Don’t install that spyware on your phone,” Huffman said, as reported by TechCrunch.

“These are baseless accusations made without a shred of evidence,” a TikTok spokesperson said in response.

“We have a dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices,” said TikTok U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas, in November. “In addition, we periodically conduct internal and external reviews of our security practices in an effort to ensure we are keeping up with current risks.”

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing platform that only launched in 2016 that is owned by ByteDance, the highest-valued privately-held company in the world, worth an estimated $75 billion. The app has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times, gaining on tech giants such as Instagram and Snapchat.

TikTok has been banned by several U.S. military branches, including the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marines.

“Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command has blocked TikTok from government-issued mobile devices,” Capt. Christopher Harrison, a United States Marine Corps spokesman, said in January. “This decision is consistent with our efforts to proactively address existing and emerging threats as we secure and defend our network. This block only applies to government-issued mobile devices.”

Last December, the Pentagon issued a warning about TikTok, saying there was a “potential risk associated with using the TikTok app.” The Department of Defense issued similar warnings about TikTok. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also banned the viral video social media network.

Counterpoint: Those videos on TikTok are fun.