Just as I announced that I’m scaling back my presence as an -for lack of a better word- “influencer,” you may have noticed that my Instagram account was suspended.
It happened because someone had hacked it. You can’t just call Instagram to have it restored. There’s a waiting period and a whole process which is too boring to even mention.
But how did someone gain access to my account? The simple answer is: because I did something stupid.
HOW I GOT HACKED
I was watching a documentary on Netflix when I received a message on WhatsApp from Instagram notifying me that, because my account was in good standing, I was now eligible to receive a blue checkmark. I just needed to click on a link and fill out a form and all would be taken care of.
After filling out the form I received a code to confirm my identity. I typed in the code and then Instagram sent me a message saying that something was going on on my account that was going against community guidelines. Due to this suspicious activity my account was suspended.
Then I received a mysterious WhatsApp message saying:
Oddly enough, no amount was mentioned or a way to pay it. Of course I would not have paid a penny to these crooks, and instead I reported them to WhatsApp.
MY INITIAL RESPONSE
I notified all my contacts on social media about the hack, and now I am getting all kinds of messages from people I don’t know, about folks or services they recommend that can supposedly restore my account. There must be a whole anti-hacking industry I didn’t realize existed!
Instagram told me to wait at least 24 hours before I can try to access my account again, so that’s what I’m doing while keeping my fingers crossed. I don’t want to open a new account as some have suggested, because I do not want to lose my 5 thousand 5 hundred followers. It took me many years to get such a following.
We’re now four days into the hack, and I’m still not allowed back.
I guess the moral of the story is obvious:
Don’t watch any documentaries.
Or rather… don’t do anything stupid while you’re distracted watching documentaries.
Always check the source of the message before you respond.
TRYING OUT TIKTOK
I’m a big fan of turning problems into opportunities so I thought now would be a good time to finally give this TikTok thing a try. I never warmed up to the platform after they used Bev Standing’s voice without her permission, but since Bev settled in court I was less troubled by the idea. I mean, Bev still uses it so it can’t be that bad…
There are lots of young voice overs on TikTok, and that’s why I recorded a short video about winning auditions. Guess what? As we speak it has been viewed about 800 times, which is way more than any Instagram video I ever posted. I was blown away!
In spite of my unexpected success I’m already thinking of leaving the platform. Does that sound crazy? Why not keep a winning streak going?
Here’s the thing… My much appreciated voice over colleague Paul Schmidt pointed me to the TikTok Terms of Service. Chapter 7 talks about User-Generated content. TikTok states:
“Any User Content will be considered non-confidential and non-proprietary.”
That means: you don’t own your own stuff!!!
ANYONE CAN USE YOUR CONTENT
TikTok goes on to say:
“You or the owner of your User Content still own the copyright in User Content sent to us, but by submitting User Content via the Services, you hereby grant us an unconditional irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully transferable, perpetual worldwide license to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit, and/or distribute and to authorize other users of the Services and other third-parties to view, access, use, download, modify, adapt, reproduce, make derivative works of, publish and/or transmit your User Content in any format and on any platform, either now known or hereinafter invented.”
This almost sounds like some of the clauses in the Terms of Service once used by voices dot com. Now, I understand that TikTok has to have the legal framework to share my videos (and yours) with all the other users of the platform. I’m okay with that. If you can’t publish and share content on social media, what’s the point? But why would I need to give TikTok such a broad perpetual and worldwide license to use or modify my content without ever paying me a dime?
Who knows what TikTok will do with it? They could sell it to a third party who would use it to create a voice clone. That wouldn’t be such a big deal to regular users, but I happen to make a living with my voice. I get paid to open my mouth and I don’t want it to be used without pay or permission by some obscure third party.
AM I READING THIS RIGHT?
Of course I could take it to court, but TikTok would say that -by agreeing to their terms of service- I have given them permission to use my content worldwide, royalty free, in perpetuity.
I’m not a lawyer, but am I reading this right?
fortunately, I happen to know a good lawyer who’s also a voice over. His name is Robert Sciglimpaglia and he’s the author of Voice Over Legal. Rob had this to say:
“You are reading too much into this. You are giving them a license to use the material you upload to the platform. It says you still own the Copyright. If you own the Copyright then they cannot legally clone your voice from those files that belong to you as owner. Plus a license can always be revoked as Copyright holder especially when nothing of value or “consideration” is being exchanged with TikTok to allow them to use your videos on their platform. This is nothing like the TOS on the online casting site because that site said by using the service you assigned your Copyright and ownership of the files you created to them.”
Is Robert’s explanation enough for you to stay on the platform, or perhaps sign up for it? Or are you (like some people) afraid that the Chinese government may be spying on you when you use TikTok?
Let me know in the comments!
By the way, click here if you’re looking for me on TikTok.
Instagram let me know that they have permanently suspended my account for violating community guidelines which is nonsense. They sent me the message in Turkish which makes me believe my hackers are in Turkey. I now have a new profile on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thenethervoice/ Alternatively, you can scan the QR code below.