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FTC prohibits NGL app from hosting children anonymously under 13.

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FTC prohibits NGL app from hosting children anonymously under 13.

In a groundbreaking settlement, federal regulators have banned the digital platform NGL from serving users under 18 for the first time. The app, which claimed to use artificial intelligence to curb cyberbullying, aggressively marketed to young users despite risks of bullying on the anonymous messaging site. The Federal Trade Commission and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office alleged in a complaint that NGL tricked users into paying for subscriptions by sending them computer-generated messages appearing to be from real people.

NGL, which stands for “not gonna lie,” has agreed to pay $5 million and stop marketing to kids and teens to settle the lawsuit. The company also violated children’s privacy laws by collecting data from youths under 13 without parental consent. This settlement is a major milestone in the federal government’s efforts to tackle concerns that tech platforms are exposing children to harmful material and profiting from it, marking one of the most significant actions by the FTC under Chair Lina Khan, who has increased scrutiny of the tech sector since taking over in 2021.

Despite the popularity of NGL, with a user base topping 200 million, concerns from children’s safety advocates have been raised about the app and other anonymous messaging services. The settlement requires NGL to prevent users under 18 from accessing the app, delete any data obtained from young children without parental consent, and refrain from making misrepresentations about its ability to filter out cyberbullying. The bipartisan 5-0 approval of the settlement reveals a bipartisan concern over children’s online safety in Washington and highlights the FTC’s efforts to enforce children’s online privacy laws.

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