Archive for TikTok

TikTok Challenge Results In Lots Of Stolen Kia And Hyundai Cars

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 11, 2022 by itnerd

Today I have the story of yet another TikTok challenge that has resulted in something bad happening. In this case, it’s kids…. Yes kids stealing Kia and Hyundai cars:

A dangerous challenge spreading on TikTok and other social media platforms has car owners and police departments on alert across the country — challenging young teens to steal certain cars off the street using a USB cord.

The target? Certain makes and models of 2010-2021 Kia and Hyundai vehicles that use a mechanical key, not a key fob and push-button to start the car. Investigators tell CNBC the trend started last year and the number of cars being stolen is continuing to surge across the country. 

And:

The trend challenges teens to steal a car off the street by breaking into the car, popping off the steering wheel column and hot wiring the vehicle using a USB cable, similar to the wire used to charge a phone. 

“The viral nature of how this has taken off on social media — it’s accelerated this like we’ve never seen,” [Cook County Sheriff Tom] Dart said. ”[The perpetrators are] doing it in 20 to 30 seconds. It literally is as old-fashioned as you can imagine.”

Dart told CNBC the thieves are mainly young teens — some, not even old enough to legally drive. The stolen cars are often used for joyrides, or used to commit other crimes and then abandoned on the side of the road, he said.

“We had an 11-year-old who was one of our most prolific stealers … the notion that they can drive is a fantasy,” Dart said. 

The thieves post videos online of stealing and driving the cars, using the hashtag “Kia Boys” — which has more than 33 million views on TikTok. The social media company said in a statement it “does not condone this behavior which violates our policies and will be removed if found on our platform.”

Now when it comes to blame, I assign a bit of the blame to Hyundai and Kia who clearly have cars that are easily stolen. Though they are doing something about it:

A Kia spokesperson said the company is concerned about the increase in thefts and has provided steering free wheel lock devices to law enforcement officials in affected areas.

“It is unfortunate that criminals are using social media to target vehicles without engine immobilizers in a coordinated effort,” the spokesperson said.

“While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and “push-button-to-start” system, making them more difficult to steal. All 2022 Kia models and trims have an immobilizer applied either at the beginning of the model year or as a running change.”

A Hyundai spokesperson said the company is pursuing a similar effort to distribute steering wheel locks and that the company will begin selling a security kit next month.

You have to wonder if this is under the category of “too little, too late.” But at least they are trying. That might have something to do with 12 class action lawsuits being filed against them. But you have to wonder what TikTok is doing about this? They really should be doing more to stop this as this is largely being done on their platform. The best that they could say is this:

TikTok has said that it does not condone videos about stealing Kia and Hyundai vehicles, which violate the video app’s policies and will be removed if found.

Not even close to good enough in my opinion. TikTok really has to do more to stop being the source of “challenges” like this.

TikTok Postpones Privacy Update After The Italians Call Them Out

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 12, 2022 by itnerd

TikTok is in hot water again.

TikTok has postponed their privacy policy update amidst warnings from the Italian data protection authority that TikTok would be violating GDPR. TikTok was looking to issue a privacy policy update that would have allowed the platform to serve targeted ads based on users’ activity on the platform, without expressed permission. The Garante per la Protezione dei Data Personali yesterday warned that ‘the personal data stored in users’ devices may not be used to profile those users and send personalized ads without their explicit consent”. 

Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust had this comment:

     “It’s encouraging to see one more example of a European country successfully enforcing privacy policies under GDPR. As an app that is continually accused of collecting cross-site advertising data from underaged users, TikTok has been a matter of concern to legislators around the world – moreover its ties to a foreign government have also made it an issue of national security for many countries.

But TikTok is also the most downloaded app in the world in 2022, and less popular apps with similar practices will continue to bypass the scrutiny of European regulators for the foreseeable future. Today, most organizations with websites and mobile apps are in violation of GDPR, whether by collecting user data without proper disclosure, or by sharing it with unmonitored third parties.”

I for one am overjoyed with this as TikTok needs to learn that it simply can’t do whatever it wants and it needs to be far more transparent if it wishes to be around for the long term.

FCC To Apple And Google: Delete TikTok From Your App Stores

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on June 29, 2022 by itnerd

Last week I posted a story about a report that data from US users of TikTok was being seen in China. This despite the fact that TikTok has always claimed that this is not the case. This has now escalated to the point where FCC commissioner Brendan Carr posted this on Twitter:

I encourage you to click on the Tweet to read the letter in full. But in short, he wants TikTok gone from Apple’s App Store and Google Play for violating the terms of service and for being a data-gathering tool for the Chinese authorities. The letter gives both Apple and Google until July 8th to respond. As I type this, neither has responded and it isn’t clear what will happen if they don’t respond or pull the app. But TikTok has responded and said this:

We know we’re among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data. That’s why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses.

You’ll note that they did not directly address the accusations that were made by Carr.

My feeling is that this is about to come to a head. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this because my feeling is that this is about to blow up into something resembling the scale that we saw when Donald Trump tried to force a sale of TikTok to a US company or be banned.

Leaked Audio From TikTok Shows That US Data Has Been Accessed From China

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 20, 2022 by itnerd

TikTok for a very long time has been saying that data on US users is stored in the US and the Chinese have no access to it. It now turns out that this may not be true as Buzzfeed has blown the lid off of this talking point from TikTok with leaked audio that seems to confirm that the Chinese do have access to data on US users:

The recordings, which were reviewed by BuzzFeed News, contain 14 statements from nine different TikTok employees indicating that engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least. Despite a TikTok executive’s sworn testimony in an October 2021 Senate hearing that a “world-renowned, US-based security team” decides who gets access to this data, nine statements by eight different employees describe situations where US employees had to turn to their colleagues in China to determine how US user data was flowing. US staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own, according to the tapes.

“Everything is seen in China,” said a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department in a September 2021 meeting. In another September meeting, a director referred to one Beijing-based engineer as a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.” (While many employees introduced themselves by name and title in the recordings, BuzzFeed News is not naming anyone to protect their privacy.)

This is a huge problem for TikTok. Starting with the fact that TikTok appears to have lied in a Senate hearing. And that these recordings paint a very different picture than the one that TikTok wants you to see. While TikTok continues to argue that the data resides in the US which means you shouldn’t worry, that’s meaningless as data can be accessed from anywhere. Which means that the Chinese government can go after anyone they choose. Hopefully this gets the attention of lawmakers and said lawmakers drag TikTok in front of them to explain this in detail, or face extinction. Because this is not cool.

Oh, and if you use the TikTok app, you might want to reconsider your use of that app based on this.

Summertime Safety Tips from TikTok

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 24, 2022 by itnerd

June is Internet Safety Month, and with family travel set to boom this summer, TikTok is encouraging families to have the “summertime safety and security talk.” 

As part of TikTok’s ongoing efforts to inspire the global community on ways to #BeCyberSmart, today they launched a dedicated Summertime safety tips in-app Discover page sharing basic safety tools and security tips from popular TikTok creators and leading organizations. Their goal is to help ensure that families have a safe, fun, and secure online experience — no matter where their summer travels or adventures may take them! 

More details are available via TikTok’s Newsroom.

Indigo And TikTok Forge Partnership In Wake of #BookTok’s Phenomenal Canadian Popularity

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 12, 2022 by itnerd

Today, Indigo, Canada’s leading book and lifestyle retailer, announces a partnership with entertainment platform TikTok Canada, to launch a new #BookTok Book Club—a virtual space for TikTok’s global community to share in their love of reading by exploring new titles together alongside celebrated authors. The book club will kick off this May with Canadian author Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow.

A new title and author will be announced each month, and will be featured in an exclusive LIVE event hosted by Indigo and the author for the #BookTok community that includes a Q&A. Fans can discover TikTok Indigo Book Club content in-app, which will include features, creator content, and more. To celebrate the partnership and the May book pick, Indigo will be hosting an in-person event at Indigo Metrotown on Thursday, May 26 with Xiran Jay Zhao, which will also be streamed LIVE on Indigo’s TikTok account

Xiran Jay Zhao is a first-generation immigrant from small-town China who was raised by the Internet. A recent graduate of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, they wrote science fiction and fantasy while they probably should have been studying more about biochemical pathways. Iron Widow is their first novel, a blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for young adult readers, published by Penguin Teen Canada.

The #BookTok community on TikTok has had a significant impact on the book business, including fueling the resurgence of reading by a younger demographic, bringing attention to backlist titles, and resulting in incredible success stories for authors. The in-app content is a fantastic way to get book recommendations from other avid readers, and offers an opportunity for people to engage with one another, virtual book club style. 

Popular #BookTok recommendations are available on Indigo’s website and through curated #BookTok displays in stores, and continue to be updated as new titles rise in popularity on TikTok. For more information, and to join the conversation, follow Indigo on TikTok

Guest Post: #BeCyberSmart: Tax Season Tips From TikTok

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2022 by itnerd

At TikTok, we’re always looking for ways to uplift our global community to #BeCyberSmart. Last year, the IRS identified over $10 billion in losses from tax fraud and financial crimes. With Tax Day around the corner, cybercriminals may be primed to unleash a range of nefarious tactics — whether on a connected device or a landline — to trick people into unwittingly handing out sensitive information. 

Some TikTok creators are taking their expertise to #TaxTok to help others stay ahead of fraudsters that continually evolve their tactics. These Certified Public Accountants, lawyers, and fraud fighters are spotlighting ways to avoid falling victim to scams. Drawing from the IRS, along with leading experts like the Identity Theft Resource Center (@idtheftcenter__) and National Cybersecurity Alliance (@natlcybersecalliance), we’re spotlighting some of our favorite tips to #BeCyberSmart this tax season.

  • Ignore imposters – Phishing and smishing are the most common tactics used to steal personal data. The IRS will not call, text, email, or visit your home. They will not accept payment in gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Don’t open links or attachments from suspicious senders. Scams related to COVID-19, Economic Impact Payments, and other tax law changes are increasingly common this year. 
  • Verify what you see – Fake IRS sites are scattered all over the online world. The official site is IRS.gov, and all IRS.gov web page addresses begin with http://www.irs.gov/. Beyond tax tips, if you’re on e-commerce sites, ensure the web address begins with“https” – the “s” is for secure communications over the computer network. Also check for the “padlock” icon in the browser’s address bar meaning there’s a secure connection between the browser and the server where the website is hosted.
  • Use secure Wi-Fi, VPN, and 2-step verification – Don’t trust unsecured public Wi-Fi, especially in airplanes, airports, malls, or public transit. Use a virtual private network (VPN) whether on the go or at home, and secure home Wi-Fi networks with a strong password. This is essential as wireless printers, door locks, and refrigerators create new access points for people with bad intentions. Enable 2-step verification for an added layer of security.
  • Have a back-up plan – Use a secure cloud service or external hard drive to copy important information, like photos and files on computers and mobile devices, as a lifeline to recover financial or other tax data if lost.
  • Protect with a PIN – Taxpayers who can validate their identities can obtain an Identity Protection PIN, a six-digit code that prevents an identity thief from filing a fraudulent tax return using your Social Security number.

Reporting potential scams helps prevent future attempts and protect others. Report IRS, Treasury, or other scam attempts to the FTCIRS, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or Identity Theft Resource Center. If you encounter suspicious activity in-app, report it to TikTok’s Safety Center, and follow @TikTokTips for more ways to #BeCyberSmart.

“Whether or not you are ready for tax season, the identity criminals are, so it’s a good time to remind friends and family to stay vigilant and #BeCyberSmart,” said Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center (@idtheftcenter_). “File your taxes as early as possible, do your research before handing information over to a tax preparer, and use a secure internet connection to file online or mail it directly from the post office if you don’t.”

“What’s scarier than the IRS? Someone pretending to be from the IRS,” said PJ Rohall, Co-Founder of About-Fraud. “Tax scammers will milk you for more money and cause more emotional damage than a lifetime of filing tax returns or interacting with legitimate IRS agents.”

“Tax season is a haven for identity theft, so it’s critical to do your due diligence before handing over personal information,” said Gabriel Friedlander, founder of Wizer – Free Security Awareness Training (@wizersecurity). “When it comes to tax preparation services, it’s best to work with a reputable professional that comes recommended by a friend or family member.”

“Bad actors look for any chance to accomplish their agenda of nefarious schemes, and tax season can leave the most vulnerable at risk,” said Ian Mitchell(@ian.t.mitchell_), founder of The Knoble. “TikTok’s #BeCyberSmart initiative is a powerful step to fight back by raising awareness to prevent cybercriminals from targeting unsuspecting victims.”

“We know how stressful tax season can be, and we’re proud to partner with the IRS to share tips on how to stay safe when filing taxes this year,” said Lisa Plaggemier, Executive Director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance (@natlcybersecalliance). “It’s critical for the TikTok community and everyone online to do research, report potential scams, and secure their online accounts.” 

In partnership with our fraud awareness champions, we developed a Bingo card as another fun way for people to brush up on their cybersecurity skills. Good luck, and remember to always #BeCyberSmart! 

Other Companies Are Fighting Russian Disinformation…. But Where’s Apple?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on March 1, 2022 by itnerd

Earlier today, I wrote that Twitter was taking action to stop disinformation from spreading from Russian media. After some looking around, I found that other social media platforms are doing the same thing in whole or in part.

Let’s start with Facebook:

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Monday it will limit access to Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union, a move that will likely heighten tensions between the world’s largest social network and the Russian government.

“We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time,” Nick Clegg, who oversees global affairs at Meta and is the former UK deputy prime minister, said in a tweet.

Now let’s go to TikTok:

TikTok has joined Facebook in blocking access to two Russian state media outlets in the European Union. Sputnik and RT are no longer able to post to audiences within the EU, and their pages and content will no longer be accessible to users in the bloc, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed.

Next up is YouTube:

Google’s YouTube said Tuesday that it would block Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik from Europe following similar bans by Facebook and TikTok.

“It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action,” Google’s video streaming service said in a statement.

YouTube’s ban — following an announcement from the European Commission that it wanted to remove these Russian media outlets from the EU — would apply within the European Union and the U.K.

While this is not meant to fight disinformation, Google is disabling live traffic in Ukraine:

The company said it had taken the action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Now over to Netflix:

Netflix was due to fall under a series of new obligations in Russia on March 1 after it was added to a register of “audiovisual services”overseen by the country’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, last year. 

The obligations mean that Netflix would have had to stream 20 Russian federal television stations, including the likes of Channel One, NTV and a channel run by the Russian Orthodox Church, Spas. Channel One in particular has close links to the Kremlin.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” a Netflix spokesperson said on Monday evening.

Finally, Microsoft has announced that they are going to de-rank Russian media outlets on Bing so that they don’t show up nearly as often as well as pulling apps from the Windows Store that are associated with Russian media:

We are moving swiftly to take new steps to reduce the exposure of Russian state propaganda, as well to ensure our own platforms do not inadvertently fund these operations. In accordance with the EU’s recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including MSN.com) will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content. We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, we are banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across our ad network and will not place any ads from our ad network on these sites.

Who’s missing from this list? Apple. One has to wonder why a company who preaches that it has such high ideals isn’t rushing to join this? As I type this, apps from RT and Sputnik which are two of the biggest mouthpieces for the Russians are still available on the App Store. Why isn’t Apple taking action? That’s a very interesting question that Apple will need to answer ASAP as they really stand out for not having taken action unlike all the companies above. And I should also say, it looks really bad on them.

 The 2nd Annual TikTok Music Report Is Out

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 13, 2021 by itnerd

Today, TikTok is releasing its 2nd Annual TikTok Music Report, highlighting top music trends on the app this year. The app is now a fundamental part of the music industry, and with the 2021 Music Report, we have the data to prove it.

TikTok remained the top source of music discovery for fans of all backgrounds, paving the way for the next generation of music stars, and helping usher in artists as diverse as Olivia Rodrigo, PinkPantheress, and Måneskin to stardom.

So, which Canadian artists made the list?

And let’s crunch some numbers:

  • Over 175 songs trended on TikTok in 2021 also charted on the Billboard Hot 100, twice as many as last year.
  • Approximately 430 songs surpassed 1 billion video views as TikTok sounds in 2021 – a threefold increase over 2020.
  • The most popular of these songs approach, and even exceed, 20 billion views on videos they soundtrack.

You can find the full report here.

TikTok’s Fraud Awareness Week Kick Off Today

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 15, 2021 by itnerd

Today, TikTok is kicking off Fraud Awareness Week as a continuation of their #BeCyberSmart campaign with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

TikTok is joining with industry experts including The Knoble’s Ian Mitchell, Frank McKenna (AKA, Frank on Fraud), Identity Theft Resource Center’s Eva Velasquez, Fraudology podcast host Karisse Hendrick, and the “Original Internet Godfather” Brett Johnson. Their goal is to spotlight ways to identify scams, verify suspicious activity, and report potential bad actors to the appropriate authorities.

@tiktoktips

Did you know that “smishing” is a form of phishing? Don’t take the bait! TikTok will never contact you asking for your personal info. #BeCyberSmart

♬ original sound – TikTok Tips

Also, tonight at 5pm PT / 8pm ET, TikTok is hosting a special #LearnOnTikTok LIVE stream with comedian @Alex_Falcone in conversation with tech creator @mryeester for an insider’s perspective on how to avoid falling victim to fraud.