Tik-Tok Is The Most Data-Hungry App – But What Are You Feeding It?

Many of us are guilty of downloading face-transforming apps. Whether they are used to predict how much we will age in the next 20 years, or to simply touch up a selfie before posting it on social media, it is important to consider your data security.


How Much Data Are We Feeding These Apps?

Cyber security experts at VPNOverview.com decided to investigate just how safe your data is in the hands of these apps. The privacy policies of the most downloaded face-transforming apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store were studied to reveal what types of data they collect and how long they retain it for; these were split into five categories: ageing, gender-swap, beautifying, face-swap, and body-swap apps.


Eight data types of data were identified from these privacy policies: contact information, financial information, access to camera and photo gallery, social media information, exact user location, user content, personal data and usage data.


Why Do Face-Transforming Apps Need Your Data?

Apps do require access to certain data so that they can provide the service advertised e.g. TikTok will require access to your camera so that you can film a video. However, many apps tend to ask for data that isn’t necessarily essential for the services they provide. In fact, of the forty apps studied, 68% collected location data from its users, whilst 40% of the apps collected user content data despite mainly being photo-editing and filter apps. TikTok, Snapchat, Oldify, Facetune and FACEinHOLE have been found to collect both of these data types.


What Do These Apps Do with Your Data?

Ageing apps

Ageing apps allow users to see what they would look like as an older version of themselves. These apps have been found to be the most intrusive of all five categories in the study; Oldify collects the most data out of every app studied.


Gender-swap apps

Gender swap apps allow users to see what they would look like as the opposite gender. The most popular apps offering this service are TikTok and Snapchat both having been downloaded over one billion times.

TikTok scored very highly on the data-tracking investigation as the app collects data across all nine categories.


Beautifying apps

Beautifying apps can add makeup, change your hair colour or even alter face structure. Celebrities and influencers quickly discovered these apps such as FaceTune to perfect their image and brand.



Celebrity face-swap apps allow you to swap faces with your favourite celebrities and ‘become’ them. The most popular of these apps called FACEinHOLE has been found to collect location information and browsing history.


Body-editing apps

Body-editing apps offer users the ‘ideal’ body shape by reshaping body parts, adding muscle or slimming down the body. Body-editing apps are at the lower end of data-hungry apps, but they still collect location data. Only one app out of eight stated that they don’t use location data.


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