Users are being urged to delete the popular video-sharing app TikTok amid concerns over how personal data is being used by the Chinese company that owns it.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said users should "without question" delete the app from their devices, suggesting TikTok is linked to China's efforts to build a "tech totalitarian state".

For as long as the app has been popular, there have been concerns about its links to China because of its parent company ByteDance.

Critics say the personal data collected by the company could then be passed on to the Chinese Government.

Speaking after the United States shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, Kearns told Sky's, Sophy Ridge: “We are being naive.

“TikTok gave evidence to my committee where they said there was no way that individuals working in China could get access to the data of Britons.

“But what we’ve now seen is that people working in China for TikTok hacked into European data so it could track down the source of a journalist.

“Because what TikTok does is it gives away the data that makes you most vulnerable: who are you friends with; what are your interests; what are the interests you have that you may not want publicly disclosed; who you are having private conversations with; the locations you go to.

“There’s a reason why China has this app. There’s a reason why they’re buying up gay dating apps.

“Our data is a key vulnerability and China is building a tech totalitarian state on the back of our data.

“So we have to get far more serious about protecting ourselves.

Basingstoke Gazette: (Canva) Kearns says 'we have to get more serious about protecting ourselves'.(Canva) Kearns says 'we have to get more serious about protecting ourselves'. (Image: Canva)

“And yes, while balloons are an important diplomatic spike in opportunity to have this conversation, our bigger concerns are the data penetration, pathway dependency that China is creating on Chinese companies, the way in which they’re intimidating those who sought refuge in the UK and around the world.”

Asked if she is calling on users to delete the app, Kearns replied: “Without question.

“I don’t have it on my phone and it’s fascinating how often you speak to people and they go ‘I’m going home tonight to have a serious conversation with my children’.

“It is not worth having that vulnerability on your phone and it is the ultimate data source for anyone with hostile efforts.

“The fact is, now this isn’t just me saying ‘I’m worried, delete it’, we have evidence that TikTok has been used to track down sources for journalists.

“Everyone should be concerned about that.”