TikTok Hit With $5.7 Million Fine Over Child Privacy

TikTok puts Facebook on notice with 1 billion downloads

For the company behind the video clip app TikTok, that price just so happens to be in the form of a record fine.

The FTC said it was a record fine for a child privacy violation. The users below 13 must be directed to a different in-app experience where they are required to provide parental consent before providing their personal identifiers. "This is an ongoing commitment, and we are continuing to expand and evolve our protective measures in support of this".

The Musical.ly app allowed users to create videos of them lip syncing to popular songs.

TikTok, the fourth most downloaded non-game app in a year ago was the number three app globally in terms of new installs across both stores during January and was number one non-game app in the U.S. last month.

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Profile information often included email addresses as well as a child's name, age, school and picture.

"We care deeply about the safety and privacy of our users", TikTok said.

TikTok, a video-sharing app popular among pre-teens, is facing a $5.7 million fine from the FTC for illegally collecting the personal information of children. According to FTC, the app had failed to refrain from showing children's information on its app despite several requests from parents.

The FTC complaint claims the "operators of the Musical.ly app were aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts". The company now stated that as part of its agreement with regulators it would create a "separate app experience" for younger users with additional privacy protections. The complaint also noted multiple cases of adults messaging children on the app. The company has agreed to delete data it collected on children.

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"This settlement highlights the fact that companies can't turn a blind eye to children on their services", Andrew Smith, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said on a conference call. "I urge the FTC to make COPPA enforcement a top priority and protect the privacy of a uniquely vulnerable class of Americans, our children".

The company has faced criticism from child safety advocates who say TikTok has attracted child predators who seek to sexually exploit minors.

Common Sense Media was part of a coalition of consumer and privacy groups that filed a complaint with the FTC previous year alleging YouTube routinely violates COPPA, but the commission - as is its standard practice when receiving complaints - has declined to comment on whether it is pursuing an investigation. Facebook said February 20 that it wasn't in contact with the FTC over the issue.

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