You didn’t think anything of posting that video on TikTok of you cooking up the famed feta pasta dish or showing off your best moves for the Sun Goes Down Challenge. Just having fun, right?
Well, lawsuits against TikTok claim that the video-sharing social app collected “faceprints” from users without their consent. The collection of data was allegedly used to recommend content and users to follow. Some suits claim that the information was gathered from draft videos never publicly shared.
TikTok denies the allegations but has agreed to a $92 million payout to settle the claim. As of September 2021, TikTok has 1 billion users worldwide.
Claim Deadline Coming Fast
What does this mean for you?
Anyone in the United States who used the TikTok video-sharing app before Oct. 1, 2021, can make a claim to be a part of the $92 million class action settlement against the company.
But hurry. You’ve only got until March 1, 2022 to file your claim.
Users who lived in Illinois during the time specified in the class action lawsuit are eligible for a higher payout than all others. That’s because Illinois is the only state which allows users to sue companies due to biometric privacy laws.
How Much Might TikTok Pay You?
The payout amount is determined by the number of claims submitted, and is likely to be a small amount less than $10.
But, if the claimant total is low, the payout could reach into the hundreds of dollars, especially for those living in Illinois.
Class members will share in what is left over from the $92 million settlement after attorneys’ fees and other expenses are deducted. Thus, class members will receive a proportionate share of the remainder, one share per claim.
Parents can make claims on behalf of their minor children. Illinois residents can receive six shares per claim.
According to NBC News, if everyone who can submit a claim does so, each share would only be worth 96 cents and Illinois residents would receive approximately $5.75. However, it is nearly impossible for every class member to file a claim, so that the share amount increases with each member who does not file.
If only 20 percent of class members submit claims, each share would be worth $4.79 and Illinois residents would receive $28.75. As the percentage of claims drops, the value of each share rises.
Payments will be made only after the court grants final approval of the settlement at a hearing scheduled for May 18. If the court approves the deal, payments will be made through PayPal, Venmo or prepaid Mastercards.
What Are the Claims Against TikTok?
The class action lawsuit against TikTok Inc. claims that the company collected and used users’ personal data collected with biometric facial recognition technology without the proper notice or consent, which violates state and federal law.
The class action suit combined 21 lawsuits against the company, including some suits filed on behalf of minors who used the video-sharing app and claimed their personal data was harvested without their permission. The suits alleged that some personal data was mined from draft videos that were never shared.
TikTok and its co-defendants deny any allegations of wrongdoing but settled the class action lawsuit in order to avoid further legal fees or uncertain court findings.
The companies that were sued were TikTok Inc., (formerly Musical.ly Inc.); Byte Dance Inc.; Musical.ly, which is now TikTok Ltd.; and Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd.
According to NBC News, the suits filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois alleged TikTok uses a “complex system of artificial intelligence to recognize facial features in users’ videos” and it analyzes faces to “determine the user’s age, race/ethnicity, and gender … to recommend content and profiles for the user to follow.”
All of this was obtained improperly according to Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which guarantees people the right to take action against companies that collect biometric data without consent.
Under the settlement, TikTok will delete certain user data collected through biometric technology. It has agreed to stop recording users’ facial features and other biometric information, will stop tracing user location with GPS, stop collecting information from draft videos and will no longer transmit data outside the United States unless it discloses its intentions to do so in its privacy policies.
More Class Action Settlements
Thousands of class action lawsuits are filed in the United States every year, and potential class members are often unaware they exist or that they can make a claim.
Top Class Actions offers information on all the class action lawsuits filed and provides links to the claim forms necessary to participate.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.