TikTok is Taking User’s Content Without Their Knowledge

TikTok is well on its way to becoming the next biggest social platform for advertisers to consider, thanks to its rapidly growing user base of over 500 million users. As indicated by TikTok’s VP of Global Business Solutions, Blake Chandlee, “It’s not a billion, but it’s not half that either”.


However, the cracks are beginning to show in the facade of TikTok, as some dubious indiscretions begin to come out. Namely, that some content submitted and created by users of the app has been used for ads, without notifying the users in question.


This issue was raised by a TikTok user by the name of Elijah Jay, who performed a balloon swallowing stunt on the Chinese social platform. This was created and uploaded with no ties to the TikTok brand, however in late August, he began receiving messages from friends informing him of his likeness being used in advertising without him knowingly agreeing to allow this.


TikTok Phone


TikTok as an advertiser

TikTok has become a major online advertiser as of late. In September 2019, TikTok was the number 1 advertiser on Snapchat and number 2 on YouTube, according to SensorTower.


This, of course,then begs the question, why aren’t the users who create the content being compensated?


“I’m not getting anything out of it,” Elijah Jay said of the TikTok ad he appears in, “when they’re getting everything.”


While most would suggest Jay and others like him have a very valid case for their content being used without permission or compensation, there is a clause in TikTok’s ‘Creator Program’ stating: 


“You will retain all ownership and intellectual property rights in any content that you upload, post, transmit, or have uploaded, posted, or transmitted to or through the platform or service”, however, TikTok makes it very clear that users “hereby grant TikTok royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide, unrestricted and sub-licensable licence to reproduce, distribute, publicly display… broadcast and retransmit”.


While this is technically perfectly legal, TikTok is damaging its relationship drastically with creators on the platform. History seems to be somewhat repeating itself, as this is a very similar problem that faced Vine prior to its untimely demise. Quite like Vine, TikTok has been a huge cultural hit, yet walking very much in the footsteps of Vine, TikTok is unable or unwilling to offer creators the capacity to grow or monetise their work.


What next?

There will come a time where TikTok will face the same tribulation – if there is no way for creators to maximise their revenue opportunities on the app, they will leave for other platforms where they can, such as YouTube or Facebook.


There is, however, time for TikTok to course-correct. It’s critical, to avoid the same fate as Vine, that it doesn’t forget the importance of its platform’s creators.


Despite all of this, TikTok is growing rapidly and an interesting opportunity for anyone interested in digital marketing for their business. Have you ever thought about TikTok for your brand? Get in contact with us now to find out more.

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