WASHINGTON — If you or your child were using TikTok or Musical.ly anytime before Sept. 30, 2021, you might want to check your email, Venmo and Paypal. You may have recently received some money.
Users have begun posting about receiving payouts from a class-action lawsuit brought against the Chinese company behind TikTok — ByteDance — claiming that the company illegally kept and used personal data from users.
While ByteDance denied the allegations, they agreed to settle in Feb. 2021.
Users who used TikTok or Musical.ly during that time period may have been part of that $92 million class settlement. Affected users had to have submitted a claim through the settlement's online portal by the end of March 2022 in order to receive part of the payout.
In November, TikTok notified current app users about the settlement, and provided instructions on how to apply.
The lawsuit was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to USA TODAY, it focused on the Illinois biometric privacy law, which lets people sue companies that take their data without consent.
As a result, Illinois residents who were eligible for the settlement could be entitled to six times the payout that other United States residents receive, according to court documents.
When the settlement was announced, attorneys involved in administering its payouts asked those filing a claim to be patient, as payouts could take months or years while appeals worked their way through the courts and the settlement gets final approval.
The last appeal on behalf of TikTok was dismissed last week, opening the door to settlement payments.
On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, there were many people posting on social media asking questions about the payouts, and celebrating the surprise extra cash.
From various posts on Twitter, it appears the payouts are being dispersed via email, Venmo and PayPal.
Many of the recipients said they received around $27 from the settlement, while others said they got around $167 - which would be in line with the extra compensation specifically for Illinois residents.
Even though some users are posting about having received their payouts, it could take a significant amount of time for all the affected users to be contacted and to receive their money.
For example, a highly publicized 2017 class action settlement involving milk prices is only now just starting to send out payments.
A webpage dedicated to answering questions that are frequently asked can be found at the TikTok data privacy settlement website. The website posted at the end of August that it expected settlement payments to "be disbursed in the next 2-3 weeks."
A TikTok representative said the company does not comment on litigation.