TikTok will soon make personalized ads mandatory, meaning you’ll start getting ads in the app based on the kind of content you engage with, whether you want them or not.
The app currently has a setting that allows users to choose whether they’ll be served ads based on their activity within the app. “Starting April 15,” reads a notice shown when opening the app, “your settings will change and the ads you’ll see may start to be based on what you do on TikTok.”
TikTok says it is “committed” to respecting the privacy of its users, according to a TikTok spokesperson. “We will continue to be transparent about our data privacy practices and help users understand their privacy choices on our Safety Center.”
People will still be able to control whether TikTok personalizes ads based on data pulled from other apps and websites. The change in TikTok’s privacy settings reflects the way ads already operate on many social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Users can opt out of advertising that’s personalized based on tracking across different sites, but not the personalization based on activity within the sites themselves.
The change is likely related to Apple’s upcoming rollout of iOS 14, which will require developers to get users’ permission to track their data across apps for targeted advertising. Any apps that don’t request permission will risk suspension or removal from the App Store. Making personalized ads mandatory allows TikTok to target advertising to some extent as more people opt out of cross-app tracking.
Update March 17th, 2:32PM ET: Added statement from TikTok spokesperson.