by Lisa Weintraub Schifferle
Attorney, FTC, Division of Consumer & Business Education
Do you know a child who dreams of being the next big star? Who spends time at home, recording song and dance routines (maybe over, and over, and over again)? That child may have used a free app called Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, to create and share recordings. And you’ll want to read about the FTC’s recent settlement with Musical.ly.
Musical.ly lets you make 15-second videos of yourself lip-synching and dancing – then share it with other users. Kids may have been attracted to Musical.ly’s colorful emojis and its soundtracks from popular children’s movies. When kids registered, they were asked to give their first and last name, phone number, email address, short bio, and profile picture.
So, what’s the problem? A law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) says that, before collecting personal information online from a child under age 13, companies must first provide notice to the child’s parents and get the parents’ consent. According to the FTC, Musical.ly did not get parents’ consent even though Musical.ly knew that many kids were using their app.
As result of the FTC’s settlement with Musical.ly, the company must pay $5.7 million and comply with COPPA. Plus, they must take offline all recordings made by children under the age of 13.
Keeping your kid’s information safe online is important to you – and it’s important to the FTC. If you want to learn more, have your kids check out Heads Up: Stop, Think, Click while you read Talking with Kids about Being Online. And if you think a website or application your child is using isn’t following the law, let the FTC know.