‘I worry about TikTok’: Parents, lawmakers sound the alarm on app’s safety, security

SPOKANE, Wash. — TikTok is under fire from lawmakers and parents who worry the app isn’t as safe as it seems.

Gov. Brad Little signed an executive order on Wednesday to ban the app on state-issued devices. Parents know how popular it is, and one mom is using the threat to teach her kids about online safety.

“Social media’s not going away,” said Amber McCollum. All her kids use TikTok, but she does worry about its safety.

TikTok is taking over, gaining new users by the day while parents worry about their kids’ safety when scrolling.

“I worry about TikTok because there are national security ramifications for it,” she said. “It’s not a safe app, and I shouldn’t have it.”

She still has TikTok because she wants to know what her kids are seeing and start conversations about cyber safety.

“I need to be relevant. They need to know that I understand. How does this happen? What are the vulnerabilities? How do you protect yourself,” McCollum said. “I just need to be able to be relevant enough to have a conversation in a crisis.”

The FBI is sounding the alarm on the app saying we don’t share the same values as China.

“The idea of entrusting that much data, that much ability to shape content, and engage and influence operations, that much access to people’s devices if effect to that government is something that concerns us,” said Chris Wray, the nation’s FBI Director.

The safety research company Safewise says what you put on TikTok is not private. The app tracks, records, and shares your information. Safewise suggests using a VPN– or virtual private network — if possible..

It’s a complicated issue with no easy solution.

“I don’t have an answer,” McCollum concluded. “It’s super difficult, but what I  know is — as long as the kids have it, I’ll have it and we’ll talk about ways to make it safer.”

Safety is the goal as the nation looks for answers on ways to balance social media with national security.

RELATED: Idaho Gov. Little joins fight against TikTok, bans app on state-issued devices