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Americans Want Facebook and TikTok Banned Over Privacy Concerns

Online privacy is a concern for many users, and a new survey suggests people are most wary of Facebook and TikTok.

This story originally appeared on PCMag

The online world is in the midst of a privacy crisis. Companies track users in order to serve them with personalized ads, but people are sick of this activity. Last year, one in five people had deleted an app over privacy issues. Now, it's become a widespread belief that companies are spying on their private conversations.

Nazar Abbas Photography | Getty Images

According to a recent survey conducted by WhistleOut, 85 percent of respondents believe that at least one tech company is currently spying on them. At the head of the list are Facebook (68 percent) and TikTok (53 percent), who many believe to be breaking privacy laws. TikTok especially has seen a recent tide of hate as a Chinese company in possession of American user data.

Instagram had 43 percent of respondents name the app as a concern, so its association with Facebook isn't helping make users feel safer. Other big tech companies including Google (45 percent) and Amazon (38 percent) were among those at the top of the list. Meanwhile, Apple's efforts to secure user data seems to have netted some goodwill among respondents — it landed so far down the list.

Many believe it goes even further than simple ad tracking, though. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents believe that these companies are actually listening to their phone conversations. Again, Facebook (55 percent) and TikTok (40 percent) ranked more highly as concerns than companies with embedded voice assistants, such as Google, Amazon and Apple. This speaks more to how untrustworthy people find Facebook and TikTok than to the trust they have in Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant.

Related: Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's TikTok Ban

Despite respondents believing these companies are spying on them, 57 percent aren't even sure what the companies are doing with the information they are collecting. While only 24 percent believe these companies spy in order to tailor their ads and content to users, two thirds of participants claim that they have seen or heard an advertisement or a specific product on a big-tech company's app or website after merely talking about that product but never searching for that product online.

When asked about what they plan to do to protect their privacy from these apps, 40 percent of participants indicated that they had either deleted or stopped using TikTok. Another 18 percent said they had abandoned the Facebook app due to privacy concerns.

While TikTok continues to combat an impending ban from the U.S. government, 57 percent of respondents felt that at least one major tech company should be banned for violating user privacy. When asked about specific apps, 37 percent of participants indicated that TikTok should be banned, while 20 percent said Facebook, and another 13 percent said Instagram.

If you're concerned about your online privacy, you can tell Facebook to stop tracking your internet activity and prevent Google from tracking your location. There are also apps that can secure your data, and a VPN can hide your internet activities.

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