In the past few years, TikTok has faced lawsuit after lawsuit. The legal battle for the app to be banned in the U.S., both in certain states and countrywide, continues to rage on. The company was also forced to pay compensation for a number of former app users in October 2022 for alleged privacy violations, while numerous concerned parents also took the app to court in lawsuits over “teenage harm.”
Hot on the heels of their congressional hearing earlier this year, the legal issues pertaining to TikTok just keep piling up, and now, the app has responded in a controversial way to make lawsuits more difficult.
According to the New York Times, the app “quietly” changed a passage from its Terms of Service to remove the option for all user disputes to be dealt with via private arbitration hearings. Now, legal experts have realized that users will have to file their claims against TikTok in one of two Californian courts.
But why does this matter? Well, the New York Times suggested that the app made this stealthy change because of the growing number of lawyers grouping arbitration cases to make TikTok deliver a bigger payout. This is a pretty major change in how TikTok interacts with the legal system, but the amendment, which was made back in July, has only been discovered now, nearly six months later.
The company also added its own statute of limitations of sorts on lawsuits to the Terms of Service, wherein users are required to take legal action within a year of when purported harm took place. Previously, users had no time limit to take their case to court.
Bear in mind, this is the company that is already being investigated by a coalition of more than 40 state attorneys generals. If it expects its legal issues to get worse than that, it could be catastrophic for them both financially and reputationally.
A social media behemoth like TikTok desperately needs a system of regular checks and balances to mitigate all the risks it poses. It’s now a lot harder to hold the social media giant to account.