Anti-Privacy and Anti-Security Advice on TikTok: Case Studies of Technology-Enabled Surveillance and Control in Intimate Partner and Parent-Child Relationships


Miranda Wei, Eric Zeng, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Franziska Roesner, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington


Modern technologies including smartphones, AirTags, and tracking apps enable surveillance and control in interpersonal relationships. In this work, we study videos posted on TikTok that give advice for how to surveil or control others through technology, focusing on two interpersonal contexts: intimate partner relationships and parent-child relationships. We collected 98 videos across both contexts and investigate (a) what types of surveillance or control techniques the videos describe, (b) what assets are being targeted, (c) the reasons that TikTok creators give for using these techniques, and (d) defensive techniques discussed. Additionally, we make observations about how social factors -- including social acceptability, gender, and TikTok culture -- are critical context for the existence of this anti-privacy and anti-security advice. We discuss the use of TikTok as a rich source of qualitative data for future studies and make recommendations for technology designers around interpersonal surveillance and control.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {281244,
author = {Miranda Wei and Eric Zeng and Tadayoshi Kohno and Franziska Roesner},
title = {{Anti-Privacy} and {Anti-Security} Advice on {TikTok}: Case Studies of {Technology-Enabled} Surveillance and Control in Intimate Partner and {Parent-Child} Relationships},
booktitle = {Eighteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2022)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-30-4},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {447--462},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

Presentation Video