TikTok changes text-to-speech voice after voice actor sues

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok has changed the voice on its text-to-speech feature, just weeks after an actor claiming to be the original voice filed a lawsuit claiming she never agreed to be featured in the app.

The new voice has been showing up in TikToks over the past day — often in videos of people commenting on the change. It sounds a bit more energetic and upbeat, creating a very different vibe than the droll monotone of the prior voice. The feature allows TikTok users to type out text and then have it read aloud over their videos, and it’s often used as a narrator.

@wannabe.fairy PLEASE TIKTOK WHAT IS THIS #fyp #texttospeech
♬ Castaways – The Backyardigans

This new voice appears to be a response to a lawsuit filed against TikTok owner ByteDance earlier this month. Voice actor Bev Standing claimed that she was the voice behind TikTok’s text-to-speech feature and that she had never agreed to work with the company. Standing said she had done voice recordings meant to be used for translations, but that she hadn’t authorized use of her voice beyond that specific instance.

The lawsuit concerns the English-language voice used in North America. Videos made prior to the change still feature the old tone.

TikTok has yet to comment on Standing’s lawsuit or the new voice. But this week’s change suggests the company is taking her lawsuit seriously.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/25/22452815/tiktok-voice-change-text-to-speech-lawsuit

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