TikTok Making Users Enter iPhone Passwords to View Content: Reports

TikTok hasn’t explained the reasoning behind the need for users to enter their highly personal and sensitive information.
TikTok Making Users Enter iPhone Passwords to View Content: Reports
The TikTok logo on an iPhone in London on Feb. 28, 2023. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

The Chinese-owned video streaming platform TikTok has reportedly been prompting users to input their iPhone passwords in order to view content, sparking concern among individuals using the app.

Reports that the platform began asking users for their iPhone passwords to watch videos on the app first began emerging in November, according to esports and gaming website Dexerto, which noted that users took to social media to express concern.

Yet TikTok—which is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020—hasn’t explained the reasoning behind the need for users to enter the highly personal and sensitive information.

Dexerto noted that the move coincided with security updates from Apple aimed at protecting users from password theft if devices are stolen.

The most recent iOS update on Dec. 12 effectively provides a second layer of security for iPhone users by making it harder for thieves to access important information including passwords from Apple mobile devices that have been stolen.

At the time of that update, a spokesperson for Apple told The Epoch Times: “As threats to user devices continue to evolve, we work tirelessly to develop powerful new protections for our users and their data. iPhone data encryption has long led the industry, and a thief can’t access data on a stolen iPhone without knowing the user’s passcode.”

There’s no clear link between the iOS update and TikTok users being asked to enter their iPhone passwords. According to technology publication Dataconomy, the issue could be because of software glitches, an update to the app, security measures or updates, or a content filter known as “restricted mode.”

TikTok’s Legal Challenges Mount

Some users have managed to overcome the issue by ensuring they have the latest version of TikTok on their devices, while others have been able to bypass entering their sensitive passwords by simply pressing “cancel” when asked to enter their information, Dataconomy reports.

Representatives of California-based TikTok didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for further comment.

The concerns regarding sensitive data requests being made on TikTok come as the platform faces a growing number of lawsuits.

A legal challenge filed by the state of Indiana alleged the app deceived users by falsely claiming the social media platform was safe for children and that users’ personal information was protected. However, that lawsuit was dismissed by a county judge in November.

The state of Montana has also sought to implement a complete ban on TikTok amid safety concerns, although again that lawsuit has faced setbacks, having been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge last month.

In September, European regulators fined the platform $368 million for its alleged failures to protect children’s privacy.

TikTok Use Surges

Officials in Washington have also repeatedly raised concerns over the safety of the video streaming site, noting that data on users in the United States could potentially fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), given that the platform is subject to laws in China requiring the company to hand any and all data in its possession over to the CCP if requested.

ByteDance has denied that’s the case and says it stores U.S. user data on servers in the United States, Singapore, and Malaysia. Still, the United States has already banned TikTok from government devices, as has Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.

Concerns have also been raised over the possibility of the app being used to spread propaganda, particularly in light of research indicating that a growing number of TikTok users now get their news from the video-sharing app, with almost a third of adults between 18 and 29 regularly using the platform for news.

Despite the ongoing safety and privacy concerns, TikTok has more than 150 million American users amid a surge in popularity, according to the platform’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew.