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TikTok Announces Upcoming Ad-Free Plan For $4.99/Month: What Users Need to Know

by Riley Cook

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media, TikTok stands out as a cultural phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. With its roots tracing back to China in 2016, TikTok swiftly became a global sensation, captivating users of all ages with its short-form videos, creative challenges, and an expansive platform for self-expression.

Image Credit: JB Lacroix / Contributor / Getty Images

However, things may be taking a turn as last week, the social media platform announced its interest in rolling out plans for its users. Similar to other platforms such as X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram, users can opt for a monthly service charge to avoid ads and access other features, including a verification badge. TikTok, an app known for its unique algorithm's ability to bring strangers together, faced many legal issues earlier this year.

On March 17, 2023, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into TikTok, including allegations that the company spied on American journalists. TikTok's CEO, Shou Zi Chew, appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 24, 2023, to defend the application.

His testimony covered topics such as TikTok's consumer privacy and data security policies, the platform's impact on mental health, and security concerns related to the platform's parent company, ByteDance. In response to privacy and security concerns, TikTok has proposed 'Project Texas,' a plan to move all U.S. data to the United States.

With this in mind, TikTok is now offering users the option to pay a monthly fee of $4.99 to avoid seeing ads on the platform. While this sounds harmless enough, it’s important to note that if you refuse to pay the monthly fee, then TikTok is allowed to utilize your data to tailor ads to you. As of today, we know the app collects the following information:

  • How long a user stays on a page

  • If a user shares a video

  • If a user swipes away from a video

  • If a user comments on a video

  • If a user likes a video

  • Basic login information, such as name, age, phone number, and email address

  • Location data

  • IP address

  • Biometric data

The recent addition to TikTok Shop allows users to buy directly from the app, inputting their financial details as well. So, how far is this going to go, and why is this happening?

On December 14, 2017, headlines were made when the FCC repealed 'Net Neutrality' rules for internet providers. What does this mean? The term 'Net Neutrality' is the concept of an open, equal internet for everyone. Critics of this position have pointed out that while net neutrality does restrict the options of internet service providers, it ensures the options of consumers.

Net neutrality regulations allow consumers to access all content equally, giving them the maximum freedom of choice. With the repeal comes the option for businesses to charge consumers to access their content. Service providers can now speed up or slow down content pages depending on the page you’re viewing, how much you’re paying, or whether or not they’ve taken a bribe from competitors of that website.

We’ve seen an uptick in ads on YouTube, for example; this is to push for consumers to pay for their ad-free subscription. So, the question is, are you going to pay for TikTok, too?

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: when the SAG-AFTRA strike started, and consumers were taking the side of the writers and actors for them to earn residuals, I knew it was a bad decision. The money has to come from somewhere. If we've learned anything, it's that publicly traded companies have a reputation to uphold to appease their investors. So, naturally, they will fluff the numbers of their salary or quarterly profits to avoid losing money on the backend.

This does not mean they have liquid capital available to pay celebrities like Gal Gadot and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson a $20 million salary on a consistent basis. Yet, the argument is that these celebrities should earn that salary up front and royalties once the show or movie airs on streaming platforms that were originally never designed for advertising dollars. Consumers are the only ones who will suffer, making the wealth gap even larger! Stop paying these companies and buying into corporate greed from all angles.


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