How TikTok can lead to legal trouble

A few things you should know before you post

Social media platforms often lull us into a state of comfort with sharing every aspect of our lives, from what we eat for breakfast, to what we do in our free time and our views on social and political matters. Amid the thumbs up, shares and widespread validation by our colleagues and peers, it's often easy to see how someone could catch heat for their actions on TikTok — and there are many real-life examples of fallout after social media posts. 

Individuals or people representing a business on TikTok can get themselves into legal trouble in myriad ways, particularly given the unique nature of the platform. And not all of those ways are as obvious as a pulled muscle during a dance routine or an injury sustained in a milk crate challenge fail.  

Getting into hot water on TikTok 

Here's a closer look at some ways you could get yourself or your business into trouble while using TikTok.

Posting copyrighted materials

Copyright infringement can be an issue for those who post content owned by other creators. While sometimes it seems copyrighted materials such as pictures, video and music go unnoticed when they are part of a video, the issue of copyright infringement should not be taken lightly. So how can you legally include music in your videos? 

It's perfectly legal to use the music provided within the app itself because TikTok has secured copyright or licensing agreements with those artists. Second, you may also add your own original music to your content. And third, you may be able to use copyright-free music; however, this area can get sticky as it can be challenging to find copyright-free music. TikTok expressly prohibits posting and sharing content that infringes on copyright or trademark, but the trouble doesn't end with violating their terms of service. You could face legal consequences if you use someone else's intellectual property without permission. If you have questions about what you can and can't legally post, you may want to consult with your attorney. 

Using the app to make hiring choices

Increasingly employers are taking to TikTok to recruit and hire employees. But our employment law attorneys caution that this can be a legal minefield. Some of the concerns are based on the potential for applicant discrimination, as laws prohibit discrimination based on protected information or characteristics that may be apparent in the videos, such as race, national origin, age or other factors. It's important to note, as TikTok users are primarily younger, an employer who uses that platform alone to hire could put themselves at risk for age discrimination accusations. 

In hiring, anonymizing resumes is a best practice to protect your organization from discrimination claims, and on visual social media platforms, that simply is not possible. The flip side is true in applying for jobs: it's important to recognize that unscrupulous employers might use the information they find on social media to weed you out of contention for a job. 

Posting illegal activity or incitement of illegal activity

TikTok not only forbids the posting of content that incites illegal activity or shows illegal activity under its terms of service, but you may actually get in legal trouble for doing so. TikTok cooperates with law enforcement and will disclose user data in emergencies and in response to valid legal action to investigate or prevent criminal behavior. That data includes an individual's phone number, IP address, email address and more. TikTok's policy is to notify a user before sharing their data with law enforcement. 

Posting about life events can impact claims

Content on social media platforms like TikTok can affect claim outcomes, so if you're considering posting about your recent car crash or injury, think again. Insurance companies or other parties involved in legal action can leverage videos and other content shared on social media to determine who is at fault. In fact, even comments on posts that are related to incidents can have an impact when claims adjusters or insurance investigators examine them. To play it safe, it's best to communicate with loved ones the old-fashioned way and avoid posting details about the incident online. 

Seeking legal help related to TikTok or other social media content? 

Posting on social media platforms such as TikTok can easily get the unsuspecting individual into a sticky situation. If you have questions about your rights related to TikTok or other social media platforms, or if you have concerns about a platform's impact on a claim or your employment application, it's best to consult with a trusted attorney. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate the ever-changing risks and liabilities related to social media



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