TikTok’s recommendation algorithms have caught the world’s attention and made the app a growing success. Now, the mechanisms underlying the curation of personalized user feeds are drawing children’s rights and advocates of digital privacy. And not good.
On Thursday, a coalition of 20 advocacy, data protection and consumer protection organizations submitted a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission to request an investigation into TikTok’s data collection and data protection practices for minors.
Two participating organizations, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Ad-Free Childhood Campaign, said in a press release that TikTok continued to violate the Children̵
Federal law requires online services to get parental consent before collecting personal information from users under the age of 13. TikTok agreed in 2019 to destroy all related personal data and to obtain permission from parents for similar accounts in the future.
In December of this year, the app launched “younger user accounts” with additional security and privacy protocols for users under the age of 13. In April, the app also added family pairing mode, which parents can use to limit the functionality of the app for their minors.
However, the coalition believes that TikTok’s efforts do not meet the terms of comparison and federal compliance.
The app not only continued to host pre-unification minors’ videos, but also “motivated” minors to falsify their age to avoid limited “young user” accounts, the coalition said in the complaint.
Even in the event that younger users to do If you register for these prohibited accounts, TikTok still does not receive “verifiable parental consent,” the complaint added, as no “reasonable effort” has yet been made to ensure that parents are informed directly about the app’s data collection practices .
“For these accounts, TikTok collects detailed information about how the child uses the app and uses artificial intelligence to determine what to display next to keep the child online for as long as possible,” the press release said .
“We take privacy seriously and are committed to ensuring that TikTok continues to be a safe and fun community for our users,” a TikTok spokesman told Mashable.
Still, the coalition remains skeptical of TikTok’s commitment to young users’ privacy.
“For years, TikTok has been ignoring COPPA, potentially involving millions of underage children in its marketing apparatus and putting children at risk of sexual predators,” said Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood CEO Josh Golin in the press release. “Now, even after TikTok has been caught red handed by the FTC, he continues to violate the law.”