TikTok just made personalized ads mandatory

On April 15th, advertising on TikTok will start to get more aggressive.

So far, users have been able to opt-out of ad tracking on TikTok. However, on April 15th its users won’t have a choice. Their personalized ad policy is changing.

Currently, users can opt-out of those targeted advertisements. The ads are based on users’ “interests,” by things you watch and look up on the TikTok app. The social media phenomenon just sent users a notice that this will be mandatory moving forward.

According to the message from TikTok, users are no longer able to opt-out of ads based on data TikTok collects from actions on the app. But users will be able to opt-out of ads based on data TikTok gets from its “advertising partners.”

One exception here is for users based in the European Union, whom are covered by the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and requires businesses to get users’ consent.

TikTok has been amping up on advertising. According to a Reuters report, advertiser interest and ad spending on the platform spiked once President Donald Trump — who literally tried banning the app over its perceived connections with China — lost the election.

Advertisers spend more on targeted ads so allowing users to opt-out means less revenue for TikTok. Forcing them means TikTok makes more.

TikTok’s new policy isn’t very much different from its social media rivals. Snapchat, Twitter, and even Facebook allow users to opt-out of ads based on data collected from third-parties or from tracking they do on other websites and apps. Users still can’t opt-out of ads based on what they do on the physical Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat apps themselves. TikTok just joins them.

TikTok hasn’t disclosed the motivation behind this new change, but Apple is preparing a new update to iOS 14 that will require apps to get user permission for tracking them across platforms. Cross-app tracking is usually generated through pieces of code that companies like Facebook or Google plant on other websites.

Social media companies have been scrambling trying to find ways to keep their ad policy alive. Instagram rolled out a notice that users may or may not have seen on their app that strongly urges users to “make ads more personalized.”

Per the notice, users give Instagram permission to track activity across other websites and apps so they can build a profile based on you, your interests, then sell ads based on that.

25, lives in Lansing. I write stuff about gadgets and video games.

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