TikTok in Hot Waters Again: Here’s Why the Video-Sharing App Is Facing Another Lawsuit
TikTok is one of the many content-creating apps that are widely popular nowadays. Just like the now-defunct Vine, the social media platform allows users to create and share videos, which they can edit with a wide array of effects available within the app, to gain likes on the platform.
The Chinese-developed app boasts a user base of 1.5 million users, giving it a strong foothold in an already competitive market dominated by the likes of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
The number of users on the app is also a testament of how people are fond of the portal’s quirky effects and how it has become an avenue to showcase talent. However, the ByteDance-owned TikTok has oftentimes found itself in trouble due to it’s deep roots in China.
Recently, it faced a class-action lawsuit from users in the United States who accused the platform of illegally collecting personal information and sending it to servers back in China.
The lawsuit further stressed that the app came with surveillance software that violates consumer protection and privacy laws.
It also argued that the vast quantities of data collected can be used to track American users’ location and activity. The plaintiff in question is a California student, Misty Hong, who claimed that she didn’t create a TikTok account despite downloading the app.
After downloading the app, Misty accused TikTok of creating an account for her without her consent and secretly taking unpublished videos from her.
The information, including the websites visited by the cell phone owner outside the app, was allegedly sent to two Chinese servers that were backed by Alibaba and Tencent.
The lawsuit also alleges that the company gains profit from the collected data because it uses this to target certain people for advertisement purposes.
Matthias Eberl, a journalist from Germany, also echoed similar concerns in a statement. Eberl has long been looking at how TikTok collects data from its users and found that the app sells user data to advertising firms without consent. He also asserts that personal information gets sent to China, which is also a violation of European privacy policies.
Of course, every country has different laws in place about privacy and harvesting data. While US and Europe are much more stringent about privacy laws, in China, the information from apps is used for the social credit system.
This was hardly the first time ByteDance has come under fire. It was recently slapped with a lawsuit after the video-sharing app, which used to be Musical.ly, was found to have collected information from underage users, thereby breaching child privacy laws.
As per the complaint, TikTok has been getting data from minors below 13 without asking permission from their parents in the past five years, which gravely violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. If found true, ByteDance could face Federal Trade Commission lawsuits.
Just a day after the complaint was aired, TikTok swiftly settled the case with the parents who made the accusations. According to the plaintiff’s lawyer Gary Klinger, there was an agreed $1.1 million settlement to silence the plantiffs.
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