Have you ever been scrolling on Instagram or Tiktok and saw a post that said “link in bio” with something you were interested in seeing? So you go over to their profile, click on the link and it opens right in the app rather than going to the Safari or Google Chrome app. This is called an “in-app browser” and it may be the new form of data tracking or a cool loophole for data trackers. Meta and Tiktok have been under fire for years for collecting user data without their knowledge and this is one way they are doing that since it is not regulated by privacy laws…yet. So, how do in-app browsers work exactly and how are companies using it to collect your data?

“Basically, companies like Meta and TikTok can inject JavaScript into every website that loads within their in-app browsers. Once it loads, they can then collect some information about what the user does on that webpage” (McDougall, Marketing Brew). Within these in-app browsers, Meta and Tiktok can track a lot such as searches, clicks, screenshots, info like passwords and credit card numbers, pretty much any thing you do while you are in the in-app browser. “TikTok’s in-app browser appears to have the ability to monitor ‘all keyboard inputs’ including ‘every tap on any button, link, image, or other component rendered’ on the in-app browser. TikTok confirmed to Forbes that ‘those features exist in the code,’ but said that it is not using them” (Marketing Brew). Although it is discouraged by Apple in their guidelines, it does not currently violate their app privacy protection changes so companies are taking advantage of this to track what data their users are interested in while they still can.

As a user, you’re probably reading this and reminding yourself to not click on a link in bio from now on which is understandable…but you shouldn’t be intimidated by tracking. The point of tracking is to help users like you have a more enjoyable experience on an app like, Instagram or Tiktok. By tracking what you like or click on, they can recommend more things while you’re using the app that you would like so you will want to use the app more. It also is to help users use the app better and share their content easier with others, I mean we even use “link in bio” to give Instagram users an easier way to get to our website. Majority of the time, tracking has users in mind even if they don’t explicitly tell you but we still think you should know about it so be sure to watch our IYKYK series and stay up to date on our blogs to make informed decisions when using apps.


McDougall, Dianna. “Tiktok, Meta Can See User Behavior on in-App Browsers, According to Research.” Marketing Brew, Morning Brew, 18 Aug. 2022, https://www.marketingbrew.com/stories/2022/08/18/tiktok-meta-can-see-user-behavior-on-in-app-browsers-according-to-research?utm_campaign=mkb&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=morning_brew&mid=f29cd6ec3cdaedfdb6a79182edd7be01.