As long as social media has existed, there have been people asking, “Can you see who looked at your profile?” For the most part, the answer has been, “No.” The anonymity of the internet has made browsing other people’s profiles an easy thing, and unlike DMs, the user usually won’t know whether you peeked their account or not. Until TikTok, that is: The app is now rolling out a feature that lets you see who’s looked at your profile — but that means it does the same for the accounts you’ve visited, too.
I opened the app this morning to be greeted by a new notification: “Turn on profile view history?” with a cheery illustration of a happy man, cloud, and bird. The relevance escapes me, but the drawing isn’t quite as attention-grabbing as the feature update. TikTok will now report who’s looked at your profile, and, in turn, will tell others when you’ve looked at theirs.
It’s an interesting move from a company that carries a poor reputation for user privacy, but I suppose there’s an argument to be made both ways: Users on TikTok may deserve to know who is visiting their profiles and checking out their videos (perhaps you’re curious to see who is looking you up on the platform). On the other hand, maybe users deserve to not have their browsing activity shared with every account they check out. After all, almost no other social media platform does this: You don’t end up on a report for visiting someone’s Facebook page, or sound the alarms when looking through a Twitter feed.
In fact, LinkedIn is really the only social media company I can think of that has a feature just like this one. TikTok and LinkedIn — what a duo.
To be fair, this isn’t a blanket feature that applies to the entire platform. Before you can see the accounts that have viewed your profile, you’ll need to opt into the feature yourself. That means, if you don’t want anyone to know that you’ve seen their profiles, you can simply keep this feature disabled. However, the trade-off is you won’t have the ability to see who has visited your profile, so you’ll need to decide which scenario is more your speed.
If you do decide to activate the feature, you won’t see everyone who’s looked at your profile. Just as people won’t be able to see your activity when keeping this feature off, others can privately browse your account without telling on themselves so long as they keep the feature off. If you turn the feature on, TikTok will show you accounts that have visited your profile within the past 30 days.
TikTok says you can disable the feature at any time, but doesn’t specify what that really means. Sure, the app won’t let people know when you’ve looked at their profiles from here on out, and you’ll likely lose your current reports, but will other people still see you viewed their account? Maybe that info is also erased, but it isn’t clear: It’s possible it’ll stay there until that 30-day limit is up.
It’ll be interesting to see who will embrace this feature. If profile view history is successful, it’s possible we’ll all get used to this unmasking just as we got used to read receipts for certain messaging platforms. Until then, the choice is yours: Total TikTok anonymity, or Total TikTok publicity?