FTC Bans NGL: Popular Anonymous Messaging App Now Off-Limits to Minors

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Written By Vikas Jangid

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FTC Bans NGL: Anonymous Messaging App Barred from Serving Minors

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a landmark step to protect children online by prohibiting the anonymous messaging app NGL from allowing users under 18.

This marks the first time the FTC has directed a digital platform to cease serving minors entirely.

FTC Takes Action Against NGL Over Unfair Targeting and Deceptive Practices

The action follows a lawsuit filed by the FTC and the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, which alleged that NGL targeted children unfairly and made misleading claims about its ability to prevent cyberbullying through AI content moderation.

The app was also accused of using deceptive tactics to promote its premium subscription service, NGL Pro.

NGL Reaches Settlement with FTC and Los Angeles DA

In a response to the lawsuit, NGL Labs, the parent company of NGL, along with its co-founders, settled the charges on Tuesday.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to enforce an age restriction on the platform and pay $5 million.

Source: Twitter/TechCrunch

"While we dispute many of the claims about the age of our user base, we expect the agreed age restrictions and other measures to set a precedent in our industry and potentially lead to broader policy improvements," said NGL co-founder Joao Figueiredo in a statement.

NGL’s Rise and Fall: From “Safe Space” to FTC Action

Launched in 2021, the California-based messaging app NGL, short for "not gonna lie," positioned itself as a novel platform for anonymous interactions. Users could post prompts on social media, inviting anonymous responses from their followers.

Initially gaining popularity among teenagers who saw it as a "safe space," NGL was later marred by reports of its filters failing to prevent derogatory language and harassment.

The FTC Chair, Lina M. Khan, stated, "NGL actively marketed its app to children and adolescents, despite being aware that it exposed them to cyberbullying and harassment."

Settlement Includes Consumer Restitution and Civil Penalty

According to the press release, $4.5 million of the settlement will be directed towards consumer restitution, with an additional $500,000 paid as a civil penalty to the Los Angeles DA's office.

The FTC's move to ban NGL from serving minors sets a strong precedent for online platforms and highlights the importance of protecting children from harmful content and deceptive practices.

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