What is the TikTok class action lawsuit settlement notice?

TikTok users who’ve been on the app since before last October may be entitled to a portion of a class action lawsuit’s $92 million payout.

The payout is the result of a settlement by TikTok following a class-action lawsuit, according to Business Insider. The lawsuit alleged that TikTok was collecting personal data from its user base and sharing it without the consent of users. TikTok continues to deny the claims laid out in the lawsuit but nonetheless agreed to the $92 million payout.

What does this mean for users?

Eligible TikTok users were notified of the potential for a payout via an in-app notification sent out Monday. Those that received a notification fall into two camps: those included in the nationwide group, and those included in the Illinois subgroup.

The settlement is the result of 21 federal lawsuits filed against TikTok, which claimed that the company took part in “theft of private and personally identifiable TikTok user data.” The lawsuits were filed primarily on behalf of minors, according to NPR, some of whom were as young as 6 years old.

In total, the settlement applies to roughly 89 million U.S. users. The amount each person will receive depends on how many take the opportunity to claim their portion of the settlement.

As outlined by Business Insider, the court documents allege that TikTok violated state and federal law when it collected and shared “private, legally protected data.” The data collected was even taken from users’ unpublished draft videos, according to the lawsuit, as well as private data used to “track and profile TikTok users” for better ad targeting. Following the lawsuit, TikTok agreed to remove all unused drafts it collected prior to the legal proceedings and to avoid collecting similar data in the future.

TikTok agreed to pay the large settlement amount, despite denying that it actually violated any of the laws laid out in the lawsuit, including the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. In a statement to Business Insider, a TikTok spokesperson said, “While we disagree with the assertions, we are pleased to have reached a settlement agreement that allows us to move forward and continue building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”

Along with the payout, the settlement will force TikTok to cease any attempts to collect or store users’ biometric information, along with geolocation data, unless otherwise outlined in the app’s privacy policy. The company also agreed that no storage or transmission of user data outside the U.S. will occur in the future.

Image via TikTok

How to get paid

If you or someone you know is included in the 89 million users affected by the TikTok settlement, you’ll need to submit a claim by March 1, 2022, in order to receive any payment. If you are eligible but don’t wish to take part in the settlement, you can also submit an exclusion form. These have an earlier submission date, however, requiring that interested parties postmark their exclusion forms on or before Jan. 31, 2022. This leaves users interested in avoiding the lawsuit with only a few weeks to decide and respond.

Those who choose to exclude themselves from the settlement will receive no monetary payout but will be free to pursue legal issues laid out in the class action lawsuit.

Users interested in taking part in the settlement fall into two camps, each of which is entitled to a different share of the payout. The first class — the nationwide class — will receive a single share, and includes any U.S. resident who used TikTok prior to Oct. 1, 2021. Those in the second class — the Illinois subclass — are entitled to six shares. This class includes any Illinois resident who used the app to create videos before Oct. 1. The parents of minor children included in the settlement are free to submit claims on their behalf.

Eligible users can choose the most convenient way to receive money, between PayPal, Venmo, or Mastercard. If every eligible person submits a claim to receive a payout, individuals included in the nationwide group would each receive a measly $0.96 payout. Those in the Illinois subgroup would come out slightly better, receiving up to $5.75. If less than the full 89 million people submit claims, however, the payout will be much higher. It is very unlikely that the full 89 million people will include themselves in the settlement.

The settlement will receive final approval at a scheduled hearing at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on May 18.