Bethenny Frankel is suing TikTok for the misuse of her content after scammers on the app allegedly created fake ads with her videos.
In the lawsuit, Frankel alleged that multiple companies and individuals on TikTok stole her content and used them to promote counterfeit items on the platform. The suit also claims that the reputation of Frankel’s brand is “being damaged and tarnished” through “unauthorised associations” with products that she “does not support”.
The civil action, which is “for injunctive relief and damages for violation of Ms. Frankel’s and Class Members’ rights of publicity”, also claims that the reality star was “not compensated in any manner for the use” of her work in these scams. The fake ads have allegedly and ultimately resulted in “irreparable harm” to Frankel.
The lawsuit notes that once Frankel posted a TikTok video warning her followers about the ad and encouraging them to report it, but the clip was deleted within minutes; it claims that TikTok allegedly removed her video because it was “abusive”.
During an interview withThe Washington PostFrankel said she hopes the case encourages TikTok to enforce better strategies to protect its content “creators and consumers”.
“First and foremost, I want there to be a tangible change, whether it’s an act, a law, a process, a step, that protects content creators,” she said. “An effort needs to be made by TikTok to protect creators and consumers. There are people who purchased these products after they saw these ads with me in them.”
She told The Post that scammers have impacted her reputation and she’s received multiple messages from her followers about the fake ads.
“People were saying, ‘I thought you sold out. You’re hawking these bad products,’” she explained. “It’s such a violation of me as a brand, a media figure. You can’t decide to just use me as an advertisement day in and day out.”
In a press release regarding the lawsuit shared with The IndependentFrankel emphasised how the misuse of one’s content on TikTok has been “widespread issue affecting creators of all sizes,” before detailing how much attention all ads on this popular platform can receive.
“I want to be a voice for change and use my platform to create a shift in the industry,” she said. “When you look at advertising on television, it’s highly regulated. TikTok ads are getting millions-upon-millions of views — exponentially more than TV — and yet it’s the Wild West of advertising.”
On Instagram on Thursday, The Real Housewives of New York City star wrote about how she wants to keep social media platforms safe.
“Social media, and its impact as the most powerful medium on the planet, cannot be a reckless “marketplace where people risk their rights and privacy being violated without protection,” she wrote. “My demand for myself, for creators and consumers is correct and just…and I won’t stop until myself, my community and our children are protected.”
This isn’t Frankel’s first time discussing the misuse of her videos. Although she claimed that one of her TikTok videos about fake ads was deleted, she posted a different one last month claiming that the social media app was a huge problem.
“The bigger issue is TikTok,” she said. “This whole social media thing is a breeding ground for scams. And what if this really really damaged my image? Because a lot of people are feeling like, ‘oh she sold out.’”
She continued to criticise TikTok, claiming that she couldn’t contact them before sharing that she was getting in touch with “a big lawyer who takes down major companies when they do things wrong”.
Regarding some of the platform’s rules for copyright and intellectual property, Ashley Nash-Hahn, a spokesperson for TikTok, told The Post that the app has several ways to flag fraudulent videos.
“We have strict policies to both protect people’s hard earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok,” she said. “We regularly review and improve our policies and processes in order to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts and further strengthen our systems.”
The Independent has contacted TikTok for further comment.