TikTok users woke up to some disturbing news: their beloved text-to-speech feature suddenly had a new and much more upbeat alternative.
From all the TikTok features, text-to-speech has been a users’ favorite since it rolled out in December.
But users aren’t so happy with the feature anymore. And we can understand why: the calming, Siri-like voice that we all got used to, was suddenly replaced by a new, much more upbeat alternative. For many, the new voice sounds like a Barbie doll, or worse, a Karen…
Some users even complained that this new voice makes their TikToks sounds like Grammarly ads.
“What is this? Who is this?” one user, @fymlili, wrote on Monday. “There’s an impostor.” Some have started playing around with the Karen voice, making her say things like “peoplepeoplepeople,” “Deez nuts,” and, yes, “Writing’s not that easy, but Grammarly can help.”
The text-to-speech feature was originally implemented to improve accessibility on the platform. But it soon became a favorite among users, which, some users say, seem to help boost the virality of videos.
So why would TikTok replace the voice that all of us got used to and love very much? Well, there is actually a very important reason for the change: TikTok has been, allegedly, using the voice without the permission of the real person behind it…
In a lawsuit filed on May 6, Bev Standing, a voice actor, is claiming that TikTok’s text-to-speech feature is using clips she recorded a few years ago for a group called the Chinese Institute of Acoustics. The recordings were supposed to be used for Chinese translations.
Standing is therefore suing TikTok for the “emotional distress of having her likeness exploited without consent,” “loss of the ability to control the dissemination of her likeness,” and “loss of the ability to control the association of her likeness,” as reported in The Telegraph.
Standing says that she never allowed TikTok, or anyone else, to use her voice for this purpose. “My voice is my product. It’s my business,” Standing told BBC News earlier this month. “You can’t just use it and not reimburse me for what I do. If you want to use someone’s voice, pay for it.”
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