What’s Going On? ByteDance, the company which owns the popular social media and video platform TikTok, is being sued for allegedly collecting and selling data of kids. ByteDance purchased and rebranded Musical.ly in 2017, renaming it TikTok to great effect. Users have soared and TikTok has established itself as a popular video app, thanks in large part to a majority of the users being children.
According to the Class Action Complaint, ByteDance collected data from Musical.ly users under the age of 13 without their parents’ consent and sold the data to third-party advertisers. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) forbids social media companies from collecting the data of children without explicit parental consent and if ByteDance is guilty of doing so, will get hit with a huge lawsuit from the FTC.
ByteDance doesn’t seem to care. ByteDance has already been fined by the FTC for violating COPPA law. Earlier this year the FTC and TikTok reached a $5.7 million settlement because of COPPA violations by Musical.ly. Sure that seems like a win for data regulation and a good start at attempting to stop these huge platforms from collecting and sharing your data, but ByteDance clearly have not changed their ways. $5.7 million is a lot, but ByteDance made $7 billion in revenue for the first half of the year in 2018. $7 Billion in one half of the year. These huge social media platforms and companies need to be more rigorously held accountable for their blatant refusal to abide by the laws. A Federal Privacy Law could help hold these companies more accountable.