USA: Child privacy advocates allege TikTok of violating agreement to protect children and file complaint with Federal Trade Commission

Author: The Verge, Published on: 17 May 2020

“TikTok hit with complaint from child privacy advocates who say it’s still flouting the law”, 14 May 2020

A group of child privacy advocates has filed a complaint against TikTok with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming the video app violated an agreement to protect children on its platform, The New York Times reported.

TikTok paid a $5.7 million fine to the FTC in February 2019 over allegations that an earlier version of its app, called, violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by allowing users younger than 13 to sign up without parental consent. Under the terms of the agreement, TikTok also agreed to remove all videos previously uploaded by anyone under the age of 13.

But the coalition of privacy advocates, led by the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, found videos from 2016 posted by children under 13 were still on the app and that the company doesn’t do enough to obtain parental consent of new users…

Even its service specifically designed for children under 13 is problematic, the complaint states; TikTok for Younger Users, which limits what users can post simply “incentivizes children to lie about their age.” A child who registers for the “Younger” version could cancel that account then reregister for a standard TikTok account on the same device just by altering their birthdate, according to the complaint…

… in April, TikTok introduced a new feature, called Family Pairing, which allows parents to link their kids’ accounts to their own, giving access to disable direct messages, turn on restricted content mode, and set screen time limits.

“We take privacy seriously and are committed to helping ensure that TikTok continues to be a safe and entertaining community for our users,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an email to The Verge.

[Also referred to Youtube]

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Related companies: ByteDance TikTok (part of ByteDance) YouTube (part of Alphabet)