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Reddit's CEO explosively described TikTok as 'parasitic' and 'spyware'

Isobel Asher Hamilton   

Reddit's CEO explosively described TikTok as 'parasitic' and 'spyware'
Steve Huffman Reddit CEO
  • Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said TikTok is "fundamentally parasitic" at a panel discussion on Wednesday.
  • Huffman said he actively tells people not to install the app, calling it "spyware."
  • The US government is scrutinizing TikTok's handling of user data closely, and many government agencies have banned their staff from using it because of its Chinese roots.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The CEO of Reddit slammed TikTok, the short-form video app that has taken Generation Z by storm, at an event on Wednesday.

TikTok is the newest big challenge to big American social media companies like Facebook, and is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance. Per TechCrunch, Huffman disputed whether Silicon Valley had anything it could learn from TikTok.

"Maybe I'm going to regret this, but I can't even get to that level of thinking with them," Huffman said. "Because I look at that app as so fundamentally parasitic, that it's always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone."

"I actively tell people, 'Don't install that spyware on your phone,'" he added.

TikTok was not immediately available for comment on Huffman's remarks when contacted by Business Insider. In an October blog post, it said it stored US user data from TikTok in the US.

TikTok's handling of user data has come under close investigation from the US government, and multiple government agencies have banned staff from using the app on the grounds it could be feeding data back to the Chinese government.

A California student also filed a class-action lawsuit against the company late last year alleging that the app made an account for her without her permission and started hoovering up her data.

Steve Huffman was speaking at a panel discussion called "Social 2030" and shared the stage with former Facebook policy chief Elliot Schrage and former Facebook VP of product Sam Lessin.

Huffman is one of the few voices in Silicon Valley to condemn TikTok in such strong terms. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said last month that he believes TikTok could overtake Instagram because it is driven by users displaying their "talent" - like learning choreographed dances - rather than social posturing.

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