TikTok is moving soon to make personalized ads mandatory, which means you start getting ads in the app based on the type of content you interact with, whether you like it or not.
The app currently has a setting that allows users to choose whether to show ads to them based on their in-app activity.
A notification about opening the app says: Starting April 15, your settings will change and the ads you see may start to depend on what you do with TikTok.
TikTok says: It is committed to respecting the privacy of its users, and continues to be transparent about its data privacy practices and to help users understand their privacy options in Safety Center Your own.
People still can control whether TikTok personalizes ads based on data obtained from other apps and websites.
The change to TikTok’s privacy settings reflects the way ads work across several social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Users can opt out of tracking customized ads across different sites, but not personalization based on activity within the sites themselves.
The change is likely related to Apple’s upcoming release of iOS 14, which requires developers to obtain permission for users to track their data across apps for targeted ads.
Any apps that do not request permission to be suspended or removed from the App Store risk.
Making personalized ads mandatory allows TikTok to target ads to some extent as more people opt out of tracking across apps.
This cross-app tracking – usually through bits of code grown by companies like Facebook and Google, in seemingly unrelated apps, is a major source of mobile app revenue and a major source of data about their users.
TikTok has been increasing its advertising business steadily, with advertiser interest and spending swelling across the platform after President Trump, who tried to block the app, lost the election.
Advertisers spend more on targeted ads, so giving users the ability to opt out of them means Tik Tok is making much less money.