Federal regulators fined social media app Musical.ly — now known as TikTok — $5.7 million for illegally collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of kids under age 13, a record penalty for violations of the nation’s child privacy law.
The fine results from a settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and TikTok, which merged with California-based Musical.ly in 2018, over allegations of illegal data collection of children.
The TikTok app, like Musical.ly before it, allows users to make videos of themselves lip-syncing to millions of songs, including from children’s movies, and is broadly popular among adults and children. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company.
The FTC said TikTok had 65 million users registered in the United States, and as of Wednesday, it was the fourth and 25th-most popular free app on Google and Apple devices, respectively. The illegal data collection alleged by the FTC predates the merger with Musica.ly and, according to TikTok officials, is no longer in practice.