Less than a year after the video-sharing app Musical.ly -- which turned into TikTok in August 2018 -- reached a $5.7 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a new class-action lawsuit filed against the company suggests that settlement didn't go far enough.
"Defendants have not made whole the millions of consumers harmed by their unlawful conduct," the complaint reads. "Accordingly, Plaintiffs bring this class action for relief.”
Filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Illinois by plaintiffs T.K. (through her mother Sherri Leshore) and A.S. (through her mother Laura Lopez), the new complaint alleges that the Musical.ly app “surreptitiously tracked, collected, and disclosed” the personal information of minor children without their parents’ or guardians’ consent, selling their data to third-party advertisers while also opening them up to attacks by child sexual predators. The plaintiffs -- who estimate the size of the class affected by Musical.ly’s alleged actions at six million U.S. users -- are asking for actual, statutory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that Musical.ly (which was purchased by TikTok's parent company ByteDance for $1 billion in December 2017) failed to put appropriate safeguards in place to protect users under age 13, including failure to obtain parental consent before sharing minor children’s personal information and making that information publicly available by default to other users on the app. They further allege that between December 2015 and October 2016, the app collected geolocation data, thereby enabling users to identify the location of other users, including children.
“Because the App had virtually all privacy features disabled by default, there were serious ramifications, including reports of adults trying to contact minor children via the App,” the complaint reads.
Defendants named in the suit include ByteDance Technology, Musical.ly Inc., Musical.ly The Cayman Islands Corporation and TikTok Inc.
When reached for comment, a TikTok spokesperson sent Billboard the following statement:
"TikTok is firmly committed to safeguarding the data of its users, especially our younger users. We were made aware of the allegations in the complaint some time ago and, although we disagree with much of what is alleged in the complaint, we have been working with the parties involved and are pleased to have come to a resolution of the issues.”
The complaint notes that while defendants began advising parents to monitor their children’s use of the app in October 2016, this guidance was “limited” and “mere ‘window dressing.’” It further alleges the company knew all along that young children were using the app, noting that a total of 46 of Musical.ly's most popular users were under the age 13 as of February 2017. Moreover, they accuse the company of actually encouraging young children to sign up by, among other things, creating song folders labeled “Disney” and “school," leveraging entertainers popular with preteens and teens to promote the app and offering tools that made it easy for children to create and upload videos. (Under terms of the FTC settlement, TikTok was forced to remove all videos by users under the age of 13.)
“For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants had actual knowledge they were collecting personally identifiable information and/or viewing data from children,” the complaint continues. “The youth of the user base is easily apparent in perusing users’ profile pictures and in reviewing users’ profiles, many of which explicitly noted the child’s age, birthdate, or school.”
The complaint includes a total of five counts, including violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act; Intrusion Upon Seclusion; violation of the California Constitutional Right to Privacy; violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act; and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Tuesday’s suit only adds to the current legal and regulatory headaches for TikTok, which is already under investigation by the U.K. Commissioner’s Office over its use of children’s data. In October, the National Music Publishers Assocation called on Congress to investigate the app over potential copyright theft, while last month reports indicated the company had become the subject of a national security review in the U.S. over concerns of censorship and counterintelligence by the Chinese government, where its parent company ByteDance is based.
Niki DeMartino just dropped her new music video for “Sad Holiday”.
“‘Sad Holiday’ is a song about oneself feeling bad for being sad during the holidays, which should be ‘the happiest time of the year’ for people,” the 24-year-old singer explained to JJJ. “Instead of singing about a romantic relationship during the holidays, like most Christmas songs do, I decided to sing about mental health during this time of the year.”
Niki tells her fans that, “Christmas is celebrated and promoted as a cheerful season, when a lot of people going through struggles feel worse this time of year, in contrast to how happy other people are.”
“Although the song lyrics are a harsh bit of reality to some people, the sad song remains upbeat, and leaves the listener with some hope, with the lyrics constantly repeated “hold on it’ll be alright, fake a smile to get through the night.” I want the listener to relate, feel understood, and have hope after listening.”
After announcing she’d be releasing two songs off her forthcoming third studio album earlier this week, Halsey and BTS’s official second collaboration was just released.
At midnight on December 6, Halsey unveiled the emotional “SUGA’s Interlude” featuring BTS member Suga, whose real name is Min Yoongi. The soft tempo track mixes piano keys with airy synths and features Halsey’s soulful vocals with Suga’s unique rap style.
Niall Horan just released “Put a Little Love On Me”.
The 26-year-old singer recently dropped his song “Nice To Meet Ya,” which has already been streamed over 100 million times worldwide. Niall is preparing for the release of his next album and he already announced that he’ll be going on tour next year.
Niall co-wrote the romantic ballad with longtime collaborators Jamie Scott and Daniel Bryer, who also produced, and Mike Needle. Greg Kurstin arranged and produced the strings.
You can listen to the song by check out the music video and you can download the track on iTunes
Liam Payne has released his debut album, LP1 on Friday (December 6).
“My debut album is out now! So excited to share this with all of you! ?? #LP1,” Liam wrote on Instagram.
Payne's former One Direction bandmate Louis Tomlinson tweeted, “MASSIVE shout out to Liam for his debut album out tomorrow. Congrats mate. Cant wait to hear! @LiamPayne.”
Listen to LP1 below!
Dove Cameron releases new track “Out of Touch!” and the video on Friday (December 6).
“On ♡ friday ♡ one of my favorite tracks i’ve done so far will be released 🥺,” Dove previously shared on Instagram.
The video features Dove singing to the camera in a red coat before taking it off to reveal a black crop top and long black gloves.
Watch Dove Cameron‘s “Out of Touch” video below.
Demi Lovato uploaded a black square to her Instagram on Wednesday evening (December 4).
âThe next time you hear from me, Iâll be singingâ¦.,â she mysteriously captioned the post, suggesting that new music is on the way.
Demiâs last studio album, Tell Me You Love Me, debuted at No. 3 back in September of 2017. Her last solo single, âSober,â was released in 2018, while her latest collaboration âSoloâ with Clean Bandit was a global hit later that year.
Liam Payne just released his new holiday song “All I Want (For Christmas).”
Along with the song, Liam also released the music video to go along with it.
“All I Want (For Christmas)” is the latest song off of Liam‘s debut album LP1, which will be out on Friday, December 6.
You can pre-order Liam Payne‘s LP1 off of iTunes here.
Federal prosecutors are officially asking the judge for leniency for Tekashi 6ix9ine sentencing.
The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York lays out the reasons for a reduced sentence for the rapper. They say his assistance was "incredibly significant and extremely useful" in prosecuting and convicting 2 members of the Nine Trey Bloods.
The prosecutors acknowledge Tekashi's testimony in open court put a target on his back and endangered his family. In the docs, prosecutors say, "There's no question that the defendant's life will never be the same because of his cooperation in this case." They add he and his family will need "extra safety precautions" at all times to avoid a revenge attack.
The FP's say 6ix9ine walked them through his social media posts to provide context for the criminal actions of the gang -- which they say the defendants, Anthony "Harv" Ellison and Aljermiah Mack, claimed was all a hoax to promote Tekashi's music. They say his testimony convinced the jury otherwise.
Tekashi took a plea deal after pleading guilty to racketeering, firearms offenses, conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and other crimes. 6ix9ine agreed to be a cooperating witness, and without that would be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 47 years in prison.
Ultimately, the sentence will be up to the judge to determine -- and prosecutors are asking his honor to consider Tekashi's service in snitching before dropping the hammer.
Lauren Jauregui has teamed up Drew Love for Clear Eyes‘ debut single “Let Me Know.”
Lauren and Drew ‘s voices mesh together as they sing about needing more communication in a relationship.
“Go download this s**t and listen on repeat, it’s a F**KING bop and this is my 4th time listening to it on the way to #ArtBaselMiami 👅✍🏼,” Lauren wrote on her Instagram.