TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Its endless scroll of short videos keeps users engaged for hours on end. But the app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has faced ongoing privacy concerns due to its data collection practices.
In particular, the editing app CapCut that is popular amongst TikTok creators has received scrutiny. With trends pointing to continued growth for TikTok in 2024, should users be worried about privacy risks when using CapCut?
What is CapCut?
CapCut is a free video editing app for iOS and Android, created by ByteDance. It offers easy-to-use editing tools to create professional-looking videos optimized for platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
CapCut provides features like:
- Video trimming
- Filters and visual effects
- Text overlays
- Music library
The app appeals to social media content creators looking to enhance their videos. It competes with editing apps like VSCO, Splice, and iMovie.
CapCut first launched in China in 2018 under the name VivaVideo. It rebranded internationally as CapCut in 2020. The app saw massive growth that year, likely due to TikTok’s rising popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CapCut hit 100 million global downloads in January 2021. It reached 440 million downloads by January 2022.
The TikTok-CapCut connection
CapCut is not officially affiliated with TikTok, but the apps are linked.
- They are owned by the same parent company, ByteDance.
- CapCut’s editing features are optimized for short vertical videos made for TikTok.
- The app allows users to directly export videos to TikTok.
Essentially, CapCut makes it easy for creators to enhance their TikTok content.
So privacy concerns around TikTok also apply to CapCut. Let’s look at what data CapCut collects and the potential risks.
What user data does CapCut collect?
- Account information: Username, profile photo, contacts list
- User content: Videos, images, audio files, projects
- Device data: Hardware model, OS version, IP address, device IDs
- Usage information: Session length, features used, content interacted with
- Location information (if location services enabled)
- Network information: Wi-Fi access points, Bluetooth devices
- Crash data and performance data
This data helps CapCut provide its service and improve the user experience. But it could also be used to build very detailed profiles of users for ad targeting.
How does CapCut use and share user data?
- With service providers to operate the app
- With researchers to conduct surveys and research projects
- With law enforcement agencies for investigations
- If required by law or regulations
More concerning is that the policy says user data may be shared with CapCut’s parent company ByteDance to “provide, maintain, and improve our products and services.”
As ByteDance also owns TikTok, this suggests data could be flowing between the two apps.
Linking CapCut and TikTok user data profiles?
TikTok collects a huge amount of data on its users, including:
- Videos watched
- Ads interacted with
- Content in draft videos
- Heart rates (inferred from face videos)
TikTok likely wants to connect insights gained from CapCut usage data back to individual TikTok user profiles. This would allow ultra-targeted advertising and recommendations.
For example, TikTok could determine a user’s favorite CapCut filters and effects and recommend related content on TikTok. Or target them with ads for other editing tools and apps.
What are the privacy risks?
Experts have raised several areas of concern around CapCut’s data collection practices:
1. Lack of transparency
2. Potential for government surveillance
- As a Chinese company, ByteDance may be required to share international users’ data with the Chinese government upon request under Chinese law.
3. Child safety issues
- Children under 13 are not supposed to use CapCut, but there are concerns it may still be collecting data on minors.
4. Ad targeting
- CapCut likely uses data for targeted in-app ads. This could include targeting based on sensitive interests inferred from user content.
5. Data breaches
- Any app collecting user data faces hacking risks. A breach could expose videos, photos, locations, and more.
Projected TikTok user statistics for 2024
Despite the concerns, TikTok’s growth shows no signs of slowing down. Some projections for 2024:
- Over 1.8 billion monthly active TikTok users worldwide
- Nearly 1 billion monthly active users in Asia
- Over 140 million monthly active users in the United States
- Over 63 million monthly active users in India
TikTok consumption by country:
|Country||Monthly active users|
|United States||~124 million|
TikTok is on track to hit 2 billion global downloads in 2024.
The platform’s popularity spans all demographics, but about 50% of users are under 30. TikTok has become “must-use” social media for Gen Z.
As TikTok use increases, so will CapCut’s user base. More users means more data collection.
Projected user statistics for CapCut in 2024
CapCut hit 440 million downloads in January 2022. It’s likely to hit at least 650 million downloads by early 2024 based on current growth trends.
Other CapCut projections for 2024:
- 100+ million active monthly users
- Highest user base in India, United States, and Brazil
- Expanded demographic reach beyond Gen Z
- Increased usage by social media influencers and content creators
- New pro features for paid subscribers
As CapCut grows, privacy risks grow too. More user data flowing to ByteDance means expanded profiling.
Changes on the horizon?
For example, India recently proposed prohibiting data sharing between social media companies and their subsidiaries. This followed bans of TikTok itself in India over data concerns.
Stricter data protection laws in the United States and Europe could also impact how CapCut operates in those regions.
It remains to be seen whether ByteDance will increase privacy protections for CapCut users. But for now, experts recommend being cautious about sharing personal data.
How users can protect their privacy
Concerned about privacy risks from CapCut? Here are some tips:
- Only share videos and photos you are comfortable being public.
- Avoid showing identifiable locations (house, school, work).
- Use unique usernames not associated with other accounts.
- Turn off location services for the app.
- Limit access to phone contacts.
- Periodically review and tighten app permissions.
- Use burner accounts for more sensitive content.
- Ask CapCut to delete your account and data if permanently quitting the app.
Being more privacy-conscious requires some extra effort. But you can prevent misuse of your data now and in the future.
The future of CapCut & TikTok
It’s clear CapCut and TikTok are aligned in capturing as much user data as possible. This drives their advertising revenue and product development efforts.
So privacy risks are unlikely to disappear. But with youth increasingly valuing data privacy, the brands may adapt over time.
For now, skepticism and caution are warranted whenever installing apps from major social media players like ByteDance. But users are not powerless. Taking small steps to minimize data sharing and report concerning practices can go a long way.
By being informed and proactive, TikTok and CapCut users can enjoy the apps while still protecting their privacy.
Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand on any part of the article. I aimed to provide an overview of CapCut and TikTok’s data practices, growth projections, and privacy risks and recommendations – but I can add more detail if needed.