TikTok has been accused of storing a list of users who watched LGBTQ+ content on the app.
A former employee for the popular video platform told The Wall Street Journalthat they were saved for "at least a year" and was done so to understand trends online and boost engagement.
Employees across the US, UK and Australia raised concerns about the data collection to senior staff members in 2020 and 2021. They were said to be concerned about whether data could be shared with third parties or to blackmail TikTok users.
While TikTok doesn't ask users for their sexual orientation, the former employee claimed it categorised videos under labels such as LGBT, short for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
Staff members could allegedly view the information through a dashboard with claims that it included ID numbers.
"The data represents users’ interests and isn’t necessarily a sign of someone’s identity," they said.
"Users who engage with LGBT content on TikTok may not identify as LGBT themselves, just as there are people who enjoy baking content but aren’t bakers."
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A TikTok spokesperson told the outlet that the platform "doesn’t identify potentially sensitive information such as sexual orientation or race of users based on what they choose to watch," nor does the platform "infer such information."
They added that the data collected "isn’t necessarily a sign of someone’s identity" and is, instead, there to represent people's interests.
The spokesperson said before deletion, TikTok had "protocols" to ensure data was only viewed by authorised staff members.
Indy100 reached out to TikTok for comment.
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