FTC bans NGL app or under-18 users

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

The Federal Trade Commission has taken unprecedented action by banning the anonymous social app NGL from marketing or offering its services to users under the age of 18.

This decision follows a settlement where NGL agreed to pay $5 million to resolve allegations of deceptive practices and violations of children’s privacy laws.

Launched in 2021, NGL gained popularity for its feature allowing users to post links to their social accounts for friends to send anonymous questions. However, both the FTC and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office accused NGL and its co-founders of targeting minors with misleading marketing claims.

They alleged that NGL falsely promoted its AI content moderation system as capable of filtering out harmful messages and cyberbullying.

The complaint also highlighted NGL’s tactic of sending fake questions to users, allegedly generated by computers, to entice them into subscribing to its $9.99 monthly service. This practice, along with insufficient disclosure of subscription charges and violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule, prompted numerous consumer complaints.

According to FTC Chair Lina M. Khan, NGL disregarded children’s safety by exposing them to potential cyberbullying and harassment. The settlement mandates that NGL implement an age gate preventing minors from accessing the app and prohibits misrepresentations about message senders and content moderation capabilities.

In response to the settlement, NGL co-founder Joao Figueiredo expressed readiness to improve the app’s policies and compliance measures, despite disputing some of the allegations regarding its user base. He emphasized that the agreed-upon measures, including age gating and enhanced disclosures, aim to set a standard for similar platforms moving forward.

The FTC’s enforcement action underscores its commitment to protecting young consumers from deceptive practices in digital services, signaling a proactive stance against exploiting children for profit in the online space.

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