Eli5: Why does tiktok know when I’ve downloaded a new game on my PS5?


Downloaded Hunt: Showdown, and tiktok immediately started showing me videos of the game. Didn’t speak the name out loud, didn’t text about it to anyone, didn’t google anything about it. Does Sony share info with tiktok, or could it have recognized the soundtrack of the game through my mic or something?

Edit: the phone is never on the wifi where the console is, so it’s not that.

In: 2100

You’ve most likely accepted cookies with your psn account or any other account used on your play station and tiktok. This is what allows different brands to share analytics about you and create targeted videos and stuff.

It knows by your behaviour on the app. You behave like people who were interested in that type of game and then when you bought the game you stopped longer on the videos about it so it showed you more.

There’s a number of potential ways this could happen.

– Pure coincidence. Whatever reason that led to you downloading that game may have led other people to be interested in the game as well, and TikTok’s algorithm may have noticed this change in interest and begun showing videos of the game to more people. It may feel like TikTok knows you downloaded the game, but that is confirmation bias and it is showing videos of the game to a lot of people and it stands out to you because you downloaded it.

– Data sharing. You may have cookies or other web activity tracking that is able to correlate your personal activity across accounts. If your PlayStation profile is public, for instance, some data sellers could potentially scan it for changes in activity and add it to a database that includes all information known about your PlayStation account, which could include information about your phone that TikTok can use to identify you in that database even without you having the same username or even being signed in to TikTok.

– De-anonymization. Sony may sell high level information about user activity and downloads, and while this data very well may not include your name or identify you specifically, it will at least include general information like location, age range, gender, etc. TikTok also likely knows much of that same information about you, and the information when all combined together may uniquely identify you specifically. Even if it doesn’t it will almost certainly identify a very small number of users, and TikTok may be using that data for all users who fit those demographics.

Internet traffic is tracked by more than just your browser history. Anonymous traffic data (anonymous in that your personal name and certain other pieces of PII such as DoB aren’t included) is tracked based on your mobile device/gone router’s public IP address. This information is getting shared by services like Google, Facebook, etc.

Your ISP, and at a smaller level, most “free services” you use, track your data in this manner and thus advertisers buy this data to target consumers based on what kind of content they consume. It doesn’t matter if you’re using incognito mode in a browser, clearing cookies, etc. Your traffic is tracked and logged by the service providers and results in things like you described, where one service is seemingly aware of your purchase history and advertises the very products you’ve recently purchased.

Go read the TikTok Privacy Policy. Easily one of the most invasive SM apps. I’m sure you’ll find the connection when you see what your are giving them access to.