TikTok: Legal Implications and Risks for Businesses

Jacob Lenchner – TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world, with over 2 billion active users globally. However, the platform’s popularity brings a range of legal implications and risks for businesses. It is critical for businesses that market and promote their offerings on TikTok remain cognizant of these legal issues and risks.

Privacy and data protection are among the most significant legal issues that businesses face when using TikTok, and the platform is under continued scrutiny for its data collection practices. In 2020, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for violating children’s privacy laws. The platform also faced a ban in India for concerns over user data privacy and security.

Businesses that use TikTok for marketing purposes must be aware of the platform’s data collection practices and how they impact operations. The platform collects a range of data from its users, including personal information, device information, precise location data, and usage data (user’s search history and interactions with other users). When a user signs up for TikTok and provides their information to make an account, the platform also collects information about the user’s device, including the type of device, operating system, and network information.

Intellectual property rights are another legal issue that businesses face when utilizing TikTok. TikTok users can create and share their own content on the platform, which may include copyrighted material. Businesses that use TikTok for marketing must ensure that they do not infringe on any intellectual property rights, such as music, images, or videos, without proper permission. TikTok has a large library of licensed music that users can include in their videos, but the platform’s licensing agreements do not cover all songs. Additionally, businesses must ensure that they have the proper licenses and permissions to use any copyrighted material in their videos, such as images, videos, or other audio content. To avoid these copyright issues, businesses should consider creating original content for TikTok or obtaining the proper licenses or permissions to use copyrighted materials in their videos. TikTok’s terms of service prohibit users from posting content that infringes on someone else’s intellectual property rights. However, businesses must also ensure that the content they post on the platform is either original or properly licensed.

Advertising regulations can also be a legal concern for businesses that use TikTok for marketing purposes. TikTok’s advertising policies provide specific guidelines required of businesses when advertising on the platform. For instance, businesses must ensure that their advertisements are not misleading, do not promote prohibited products, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Businesses must also be aware of advertising regulations in their jurisdiction and ensure that their advertisements comply with these laws. In the U.S., for example, the Federal Trade Commission has issued specific guidelines for social media influencers that require them to disclose when they are promoting a product or service in their posts.

In conclusion, businesses must be aware of the legal implications and risks when using TikTok for marketing and promotional purposes. Privacy and data protection, intellectual property rights, and advertising regulations are only a few of the legal issues that businesses must consider. In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever for businesses to stay informed about the legal and copyright issues associated with social media platforms like TikTok, so they can effectively and responsibly leverage these platforms to reach their audiences and meet their business goals.

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