Use This Popular Social Media App? You May Be Eligible for Compensation!
One brand name that hasn't seen a rest from the news any time lately is TikTok. Ever since President Trump banned this former arm of the Chinese Communist Party from being allowed in the United States, there's been much talk surrounding it, yet little answers.
So What Happened with TikTok?
TikTok was commonly used to record and share short videos. It was operated ostensibly by a private company in China. However, though it claimed to be "international," there was a very different version of the app in China that focused more heavily on conforming to governmental wishes. American users could see more content, but the Chinese government routinely policed it and removed anything that went against their country.
As such, President Trump issued an Executive Order stating that, while TikTok could be allowed to operate in the United States, it must have a US person or company heading it. After months of investors theorizing that Microsoft would likely get TikTok, it ended up being sold to Oracle, the creator of the popular programming language Java. It's still operational, though now it's fully free and legal to use in the US.
What's the Suit About?
There is a class action suit that covers most users of TikTok in court. We will discuss the exact details shortly. Essentially, security researchers determined that there were intentional mechanisms placed in the app that allowed device data to be harvested and sent to the Chinese government. This affected everyone in every country who used the app, not just Chinese citizens.
Clearly, this poses a privacy problem for American users. To be clear, this was immediately eliminated after Oracle acquired the company. However, users are suing because they were effectively spied on without their consent or knowledge.
The Class Action Lawsuit Details
The suits originally began as children reported to their parents that their personal information was being harvested and sent to China after using the app. These parents first had about 20 individual lawsuits against TikTok. These were condensed into one, class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Northern Illinois.
Though, like most large tech companies, TikTok likely would have fought this battle to the end, the company was already racing against time when the suit was filed. President Trump had stated the company had until September 15, 2020, to sell the company off, or access to it from the US would be shuttered, which is the primary userbase. To avoid a shutdown, TikTok had to reach a verdict before that date.
Initially, nobody was sure whether these claims were simply bad attempts at a money-grab or a legitimate threat to security. Outside experts who were hired for the purposes of this test claimed that they had obtained evidence that TikTok had been obtaining data of Americans through third parties they trusted. They stated that they could prove that it was highly likely that this data would fall right into the hands of the Chinese government, which is not legal. Additionally, simply obtaining the level of information that TikTok was obtaining was illegal in the United States because people were not asked for permission to obtain some parts of it.
Even though TikTok forced users to agree to arbitration to avoid class action suits, minors in California cannot waive this right, and minors suing through their parents is what enabled this whole thing to take place.
How Can I Get In On This?
First, remember that you must be an American citizen. Although the initial class-action suit was only minors, you do not need to be a minor to enter. However, minors are free to enter the class through a parent or legal guardian.
Some believed that this class action was "shut down" after TikTok was sold to Oracle. This lawsuit is against the Chinese company that did own TikTok, not Oracle. The suit is still in full motion and gaining ground as you read this article.
There are a few different class-action suits, since the original class was divided based on a technicality. Nonetheless, all three of the current ones are going well at the moment. You'll need to do some research to determine into which class you may fall, but there likely is a bucket at the end of this rainbow for you if you do qualify!
If you used TikTok before Oracle owned it and have 15 minutes, there's no reason to not look further into it.
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