Victor Tangermann
Startup Pitch: "Face Catalog"

TikTok Tracks Users With Facial Recognition

byDan Robitzski
9. 26. 19
Victor Tangermann

An experimental new feature lets you search for a person's face instead of by account. Is it a privacy risk?

Face Search

Say you enjoyed a particular person’s post on TikTok and want to find more videos they appeared in — regardless of whether they uploaded them with the same account.

A new search feature lets you drag a box over their face on the Chinese version of the popular app. TikTok will then pull up any other post in which that person appears, according to Radii. While useful for the scrolling meme-enjoyer, it’s an ostensibly creepy feature that seemingly subjects anyone using the app to behind-the-scenes facial recognition analysis.

Spotty Record

TikTok’s new search feature — which also lets users look up and buy whatever clothes people are wearing — isn’t the app’s first eyebrow-raising privacy decision. In February, TikTok had to pay a $5.7 million fine for collecting preteens’ personal data, and is now reportedly censoring controversial topics on behalf of the Chinese government.


As it stands now, it’s unclear when or if the new search feature will make it to the U.S. — or whether users who’ve posted their faces all over TikTok will get a heads up.

READ MORE: TikTok’s New “Video Search” Function is From the Future [Radii]

More on apps: China Appears to Be Censoring Hong Kong Protests From TikTok

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