TikTok just passed 1bn downloads as it’s fined for illegally collecting children’s data

China’s karaoke app has taken the kids’ side of the internet by storm but it’s embroiled in a privacy controversy as it reaches a new milestone.

TikTok is a popular app from Chinese developers ByteDance that has spread amongst young audiences around the world. It lets it’s users create short videos, often lip-syncing or dancing to music, and share them with the world.

This week it was revealed that they have passed a monumental 1 billion downloads worldwide by US app tracking company Sensor Tower. It’s popularity hasn’t come without it’s criticisms however, particularly surrounding it’s audience of mostly children. Concerns have been raised over children sharing videos with them on a global, public platform but they are now wrapped up in an actual legal battle.

The app, formerly known as musical.ly before being incorporated into TikTok last year, agreed to a record $5.7 million fine. They were accused of illegally collecting personal information from children under 13 by the US Federal Trade Commission. The app’s creators admitted to the infringement in a statement and announced changes to their app to resolve the issue.

They said: “In working with the FTC and in conjunction with today’s agreement, we’ve now implemented changes to accommodate younger US users in a limited, separate app experience that introduces additional safety and privacy protections designed specifically for this audience.

“From viral videos to tender moments, TikTok allows users from all walks of life to be their authentic selves while delighting in spontaneous humor and global trends. In the younger ecosystem, users cannot do things like share their videos on TikTok, comment on others’ videos, message with users, or maintain a profile or followers. However, they will be able to experience what TikTok is at its core – showcasing creativity – as they enjoy curated content and experiment with TikTok’s unique, fanciful, and expressive features.”

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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