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Bethenny Frankel Is Suing TikTok Over Ad Using Her Image: ‘I Want to Be a Voice for Change’

Bethenny Frankel Is Suing TikTok in Class Action Lawsuit
Bethenny FrankelImage Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Taking TikTok to court. Bethenny Frankel is suing the social media platform in a class action lawsuit, claiming the site misused her image and likeness.

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The Real Housewives of New York City alum, 51, filed the complaint on Thursday, October 6, accusing the company of allegedly violating “her right to publicity and the unauthorized use of her image and likeness to promote and sell counterfeit products on the platform.”

According to documents obtained by Us Weekly, Frankel is seeking compensation for “significant damages to her business and reputation, as well as broad changes to impose stricter regulations regarding TikTok’s advertising” after a video she created was allegedly reposted for an untrustworthy ad without her consent. She requested a trial by jury, where the amount of damages can be officially determined.

The Skinnygirl CEO, who has more than 990,000 followers on TikTok, claimed that she was alerted by fans in September that a user had edited a video of Frankel discussing a sweater she loved to instead promote an alleged counterfeit.

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Through her lawsuit, Frankel is urging the platform to better protect creators and their content “in any form, including, without limitation, images, videos, text, and audio, created and published on social media or other channels, from being misused and misrepresented.”

While discussing her hopes for the case, the Bravo personality told The Washington Post that she wants to see TikTok make “a tangible change” in their policies. “An effort needs to be made by TikTok to protect creators and consumers,” she told the outlet. “There are people who purchased these products after they saw these ads with me in them.”

She added in an additional statement: “I want to be a voice for change in the space.”

After being informed of the ad, Frankel addressed the incident in multiple videos. “This is something that has to be addressed because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said in one TikTok shared on September 18, adding in a subsequent upload, “These people are garbage, scumbag scoundrel scammers stealing, and their products are garbage, and don’t buy them.”

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A spokesperson for TikTok, meanwhile, defended the platform’s efforts. “We have strict policies to both protect people’s hard earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok,” Ashley Nash-Hahn told the newspaper. “We regularly review and improve our policies and processes in order to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts and further strengthen our systems.”

Frankel’s lawsuit isn’t solely for her benefit — she hopes other creators see the difference as well. “Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves. That ends now,” she wrote via Instagram on Thursday. “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. 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.”

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