TikTok Is in Some Minority Report-Style Legal Trouble


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Just months away from being banned in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears to be putting some salt in TikTok’s wound. The agency has issued a bizarre message about referring a complaint about the social media app to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The FTC issued a statement on Tuesday saying its investigations “uncovered reason to believe” that TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, are “violating or are about to violate the law.” The commission says the violations (or would-be violations) are of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) and the FTC Act but didn’t provide specifics. Also, the statement mentions how making this action public is something the FTC doesn’t normally do, but it determined that it was in the public’s interest to release the statement. So, we’re letting you know that they think you should know.

A DOJ spokesperson says they can’t comment on the substance of the referral, but the department did consult with the FTC in advance and is considering the claim.

In the statement, the FTC mentions how its investigation began in 2019 with Musical.ly, the predecessor of TikTok. Back then, the commission did find that the company was “aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents” and issued a fine of $5.7 million. It’s unclear if this complaint against TikTok is related or if the investigation found other violations.

TikTok says it has been working with the FTC for more than a year to address concerns it may have.

“We’re disappointed the agency is pursuing litigation instead of continuing to work with us on a reasonable solution,” a TikTok spokesperson said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “We strongly disagree with the FTC’s allegations, many of which relate to past events and practices that are factually inaccurate or have been addressed. We’re proud of and remain deeply committed to the work we’ve done to protect children and we will continue to update and improve our product.”

TikTok is not in the best spot right now, although it’s still incredibly popular. In April, President Joe Biden signed a bill requiring the divestment of TikTok or else face a U.S. ban. The social app is on the 270-day clock to figure out something, or it could wait for the upcoming presidential election and hope Trump wins as he’s suddenly come around to support TikTok. Maybe he found a dance that he liked watching on the app.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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