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TikTok Settles Massive Class Action Lawsuit Over Data Privacy

Life hacks, cooking tips, fashion dos and don’ts, dance crazes, and everything else can be found on TikTok. The social video giant prides itself on the ability to educate its users. Case in point: The hashtag #TikTokTaughtMe has 10.7 billion views.

As social media content has evolved from static photos to entertaining, short-form videos, so have concerns over the privacy of its users.

In August 2022, a federal judge in Illinois gave final approval for a $92 million class-action settlement between social media giant TikTok and a class of users who claimed the social platform collected and shared their personal data without consent.

What is the TikTok Class Action Lawsuit?

Techcrunch reported in June 2021 that updates to TikTok’s privacy policy included a then-new section stating the video platform may collect biometric information, like faceprints and voiceprints.

This addition further expands the previously extensive scroll of listed data the app collects from its users.

Since then, over 21 federal lawsuits were filed against TikTok and parent company ByteDance, stating the platform collected personal data without formal user consent, which violates federal law, and shared that information with third parties like Google and Facebook to serve ads.

Shannon M. McNulty, partner at Clifford Law Offices, is part of the plaintiff team and heads mass tort/class action practice for the firm. She has worked on a number of high-profile cases involving various defective products, including a $34 million case settlement against Proline Casement windows and the concealment of their defective windows. In August 2022, Shannon was named 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” in the Chicago area by Best Lawyers® for Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.

What personal data was illegally collected?

The lawsuit alleges that TikTok used facial recognition to determine information related to a user’s identity, like gender, age, and race for the purpose of serving ads—and sent U.S. users’ data overseas to some third parties in China.

The plaintiffs alleged that personal data was collected from posted videos and draft videos that were never shared on the app.

Equally concerning are these lawsuits’ allegations concerning the illegal data mining and surveilling of users of tender age, with some as young as six years old.

How much is the settlement?

While TikTok has denied allegations brought against them, they have agreed to a $92 million settlement: arguably one of the biggest privacy-related settlements to date.

Class Members who used the TikTok app before September 30, 2021, and who filed a claim by March 1, 2022, are eligible to receive a payment.

How does this settlement impact Illinois residents?

Because TikTok’s actions violated Illinois privacy laws, which state companies must receive written consent to share user data with third parties, Illinois residents are in a subclass and will receive the biggest share.

How will TikTok treat user privacy going forward?

Under settlement terms, TikTok will no longer record a user’s biometric information; track their location via GPS, or collect data from draft videos.

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