TikTok, formerly known as Musical.ly, is having to pay a $5.7 million settlement after allegations of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.
Federal Trade Commission officials issued a statement on Wednesday calling the settlement "the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the Commission in a children's privacy case."
More than 200 million users worldwide have downloaded the Musical.ly app that was acquired by the Chinese company ByteDance in 2017.
The app allows users to upload videos of themselves lip-syncing to music and encourages interaction through sharing videos, commenting, and exchanging direct messages with other users.
The Department of Justice filed the FTC's complaint on their behalf alleging that the app's managers knowingly allowed children under the age of 13, who make up the majority of TikTok users, to use the app without the consent of a parent.
The FTC's complaint included public reports of adults interacting with minors through TikTok, which became an increasing concern when the app added a new feature in 2016 that allowed users to locate other users within a 50-mile radius.
FTC Chairman Joe Simons is hoping the record-breaking settlement will serve as a strict reminder to other platforms.
"This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law."
Social media app TikTok agrees to pay $5.7 million as part of a settlement over allegations it "illegally collected… https://t.co/ct9Dgszcz7— NBC News (@NBC News)1551331926.0
As a result of the settlement, TikTok has deleted all videos uploaded by children under 13 and will be required to come into compliance with COPPA when signing up new underage members.
We’re implementing changes to accommodate younger US users in a new, separate app experience. More info here: https://t.co/jPWVJDTYfX— TikTok (@TikTok)1551292992.0
A new "separate app experience" with privacy protections is available for younger users.
"Beginning today, this additional app experience now allows us to split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps."
"The new environment for younger users does not permit the sharing of personal information, and it puts extensive limitations on content and user interaction."
"Both current and new TikTok users will be directed to the age-appropriate app experience."
People are starting to wonder if the new changes presents this loophole.
@PopCrave They act like kids can’t lie about their age— tianna 💗 (@tianna 💗)1551327632.0
@PopCrave Kids are gonna lie about their age sksksk tik tok thought they snapped with this one huh?— james (@james)1551327744.0
Older members began noticing adverse effects on their accounts as a result of the revamp. Paige,15, is furious after losing 17,000 of her followers after some confusion logging in and confirming her birth date. She was unable to change the default current date, therefore, the system recognized her as zero-years old.
"I didn't think it would be a big deal so I just entered the date it gave me and my account was immediately removed," she told Buzzfeed News. "With a warning of some kind this issue would have been avoidable."
Though she was able to recover 908 of her previously uploaded videos through a provided link, it's not enough.
"I am more concerned about my platform completely being lost without my knowledge of how to resolve this issue."
"The account actually brought me a ton of opportunities that are now completely lost just because they probably didn't go about the situation in a very smart way."
Other users are experiencing technical difficulty.
@tiktok_us Yeah I noticed. You failed to include a "Hey you're not allowed to be on this app if you were born today… https://t.co/DLGp55yhSS— AJG (@AJG)1551297510.0
@tiktok_us I put in wrong birthdate please help!!!!— Marielle Stern (@Marielle Stern)1551295278.0
@tiktok_us @grace_plues There is no way to upload a photo of my ID in the report a problem section. All you can do… https://t.co/pmwWN8Gsub— Lois Song (@Lois Song)1551296629.0
@tiktok_us @grace_plues There is no “other” option...😭 cannot upload photo at all https://t.co/1YaxxYgiSg— Lois Song (@Lois Song)1551301311.0
@lololeeo @tiktok_us @grace_plues Ik I logged in it asked for my age and it wouldn’t let me put my birthday I just… https://t.co/Ebddficl0F— Emma (@Emma)1551369412.0
@CNN My daughter had an account (with my consent) and made dozens of hiliarious videos. She spent a lot of time on… https://t.co/Qx9871i6nE— Darwin's Money (@Darwin's Money)1551449955.0
Hopefully the glitches will be smoothed out over time as the app moves forward with the new privacy protections.