TikTok Trackers Can Still Be Present Regardless of TikTok App Installation

27 April 2023

In an analysis of over 3,000 websites and over 100,000 associated webpages (using the client-side security scanning feature of Feroot Inspector) across 6 sectors, it was discovered that TikTok pixels/trackers were present on 7.41% of the analyzed websites (shown in Table 1).  

Here, TikTok pixels/trackers were within the code of the web pages that load into a user’s browser from those websites.  Hence, these TikTok pixels/trackers have completely nothing to do with the TikTok App or any mobile app and, therefore, uninstalling, deleting, or never installing the TikTok App will have absolutely no bearing on these pixels/trackers.

Percentage of ownership of pixels/trackers by platform owner

The US Federal Government and more than half the US State Governments have banned TikTok and others from devices owned across their various agencies. However, TikTok, as well as others, use more than mobile apps on devices to collect and transfer data about users. Other methods include specifically pixels/trackers where, while not an App per se, could be considered a client-side “application”.  

These client-side “applications” (i.e., pixels/trackers, scripts, and/or libraries from those same banned companies) are also loaded to user sessions from day-to-day regular websites. These pixels/trackers may be loaded directly in the website html and other code or loaded indirectly within 3rd party software chains.  Table 2 below shows the percentage of analyzed websites where this was the case by sectors studied.

Percentage of websites by sector 
that contain pixels or tracking tools 
that are owned by companies banned by executive orders

Clearly, this risk is not limited to TikTok; namely, a visitor, user, or customer of a website can delete, block, never download or never install an app which is undesirable to them – e.g., TikTok, Facebook, SnapChat, Google, etc. – however, pixels or tracking tools from the company that owns the app still can load, capture, and transfer data via the browser of the user.

Learn more about this research in our recent Pixel/Tracker Report available for download today.

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