TikTok “Focused View” letter reply: open questions on privacy

In an open letter to TikTok, Access Now is demanding the company clarifies how it applies EU laws and human rights safeguards when using this feature and for key documents to be made public.

TikTok’s response is below.

February 27, 2023

Dear Access Now Team

Thank you for your letter dated 7th February, 2023.

As we mentioned in our communication to you on that date, TikTok’s Focused View product does not use emotion recognition techniques. We welcome the opportunity to again correct any misunderstanding.

Focused View is a tool available for advertisers to serve their ads to people more likely to actively engage with an ad. With Focused View, brands only pay when users have watched an ad for at least 6 seconds or when they interacted with the ad within the first 6 seconds (whichever comes first).

As such, Focused View processes data about how users interact with ad videos on TikTok, in particular (i) the length of time that an ad video appears on the screen and (ii) video interactions such as shares and clicks, to measure a user’s active engagement with the ad. This is all described in our advertiser-facing materials, for example as seen on our Business Help Center (https://ads.tiktok.com/help/article/focused-view-optimization-updates-to-video-view-objective?redirected=1). Optimising ads in this way is a well-established industry practice, consistent with our Privacy Policy.

We hope this helps clarify the matter.

Kind regards