When the lip-syncing app Musical.ly first exploded in popularity almost four years ago, it was best known for being a teen sensation.
In a statement, TikTok said its created a new app experience for underage users that "does not permit the sharing of personal information."However, the new experience will feature some major limitations as well".
Musical.ly, the lip-dubbing app that became a part of video app TikTok a year ago, agreed on Wednesday to pay the Federal Trade Commission $5.7 million over allegations that it collected personal information from children under the age of 13 without getting parental consent.
In a separate statement, FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter vowed to take further action against TikTok should investigators uncover more "disturbing practices" in the future. The FTC also reported receiving thousands of complaints from parents of young children using the app. Beginning today, the additional app experience now allows TikTok to split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps. The agency found a large percentage of the app's users were under 13 and revealed sensitive personal information, including their email addresses, names and schools.
The penalty by the social network, which had been formerly known as Musical.ly, was the largest ever in a children's privacy investigation, said the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The settlement also requires the app's operators to take offline all videos made by children younger than 13, the FTC said.
After running into trouble in the United States over the "child privacy" case, TikTok has now assured that it will continue to explore ways to expand and evolve its protective measures for global users.
In response to the FTC action, TikTok on Wednesday announced a separate app for people under 13.
According to the regulators complaint, Musical.ly was contacted by more than 300 concerned parents in just a two-week period in September 2016. "This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children".
Of course, TikTok's newfound dedication to keeping children off its platform is running into a few glitches.
TikTok told the BBC it did not plan to provide the under-13 experience to users outside of the U.S., and instead would continue to limit use to those 13 and above. "We're also working to bring our privacy and safety settings front and center for our users", the company added. The company has agreed to delete data it collected on children.