TikTok users may be eligible to claim a share of a $92 million settlement.
The settlement, says NBC News, follows the filing of 21 separate lawsuits, all filed against TikTok and its predecessor, Musical.ly.
The complaints broadly alleged that TikTok used artificial intelligence to obtain demographic data for marketing purposes.
Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois, for instance, claimed that TikTok uses a “complex system of artificial intelligence to recognize facial features in users’ videos.”
Facial recognition data is then analyzed to “determine the user’s age, race/ethnicity, and gender […] to recommend content profiles for the user to follow.”
“By utilizing this private and biometric information,” the lawsuit says, “TikTok maintains a competitive advantage over other social media apps and profits from its use of improperly obtained data, all while failing to comply with the minimum requirements for handling users’ biometric data established by” the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which guarantees people the right to take action against companies that collect biometric data without consent.”
According to NBC News, TikTok users received a notification about the settlement on Monday. Some users were skeptical, voicing concern that it may be a scam.
However, the offer is real. Earlier this year, TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, agreed to pay $92 million to settle allegations that it had harvested user data without first obtaining consent.
NBC News notes that some 89 million TikTok users could be eligible for compensation.
TikTok, notes NBC News, has denied the allegations that it improperly collected user data, saying instead that it settled to avoid protracted litigation and drawn-out court proceedings.
“While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community,” the company said in February, shortly after the settlement was first announced.
As part of the agreement, TikTok will also have to change and disclose its data collection practices.
TikTok will, for instance, have to stop recording users’ features and other biometric information; stop tracking users’ GPS location(s); stop storing information from TikTok video reel drafts; and no longer store or transmit U.S.-based users’ data outside the United States.
TikTok will also cease providing users’ personal data to third-parties companies, like Facebook and Google, and will delete all unposted and unsaved user videos from its servers.
NBC News notes that any U.S. resident who used TikTok before October 1st will be eligible to file a claim for recompense. However, the largest section of the settlement is set aside for Illinois users, who are protected by the state’s unique biometric privacy laws.
Payout amounts will vary depending on how many people submit claims, but could range from several dollars to several hundred.