Key US Lawmakers Want FTC Probe Into TikTok’s Use of Kids for Lobbying

(Bloomberg) -- Key US House lawmakers called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether TikTok officials violated laws protecting children and used the popular app to urge under-age users to lobby Congress.

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The lawmakers, who lead the House’s China committee, said the company used “deceptive and inflammatory information” to mobilize children under the age of 13 in its campaign against legislation forcing Chinese parent company ByteDance Ltd. to sell the app or face a US ban. President Joe Biden signed the legislation last month.

“We are gravely concerned that an app controlled by the Chinese Communist Party appears to have the unfettered ability to manipulate the American public, including America’s children,” Republican Chairman John Moolenaar and the panel’s top Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthi said in a letter Thursday to FTC Chair Lina Khan.

TikTok said Thursday that it uses a standard process to screen users’ ages that follows FTC guidance, and the agency doesn’t require operators of general audience websites to conduct further verification.

The company added that it only sent a notification about the bill to users ages 18 or older, and didn’t intentionally target any users under the age of 13.

The lawmakers also want to know whether the lobbying effort violated other laws against deceptive behavior toward consumers.

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