Bethenny Frankel Is Suing TikTok

Bethenny Frankel

Getty Bethenny Frankel is suing TikTok.

Former “Real Housewives of New York” star Bethenny Frankel is suing the social media platform, TikTok.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York federal court in Manhattan on October 6, 2022, court records obtained by Heavy show. The lawsuit claims TikTok violated Frankel’s rights of publicity under New York civil rights law.

Frankel is seeking $5 million in damages in the lawsuit, according to court records. Frankel is being represented by attorney Jonathan M. Sedgh of the New York-based law firm Morgan & Morgan. TikTok has not yet responded to the lawsuit in court. No hearings have been scheduled in the case yet.

Here’s what you need to know:

Bethenny Frankel Is Accusing TikTok of ‘Allowing Scammers to Use Her Image & Likeness’

According to court documents obtained by Heavy, Frankel is suing the social media platform for “allegedly allowing scammers to use her ‘image and likeness’ to promote counterfeit products on the platform.” News of the lawsuit was first reported by The Washington Post.

The 32-page lawsuit states, “For some time, unscrupulous companies and individuals have purloined the images, voices, and content of Ms. Frankel and Class Members to sell counterfeit items through the use of TikTok’s platform. Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions. Aside from not being compensated, the reputation and brand of Ms. Frankel and Class Members are being damaged and tarnished through unauthorized associations with counterfeit goods and other products that they do not support.”

Frankel’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit that “a scammer had taken a past video of her singing her praises for a different cardigan and edited it to appear as though she was actually promoting the fake product – without her consent,” according to court documents.

According to Frankel’s lawsuit, she called out the fake video in a TikTok video of her own but says that “TikTok deleted the video for being ‘abusive'” and she alleges that she “suffered significant injury and irreparable harm” due to the scammer’s video and is requesting “changes to TikTok’s advertising policy.”

“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 on Instagram on October 6. “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.”

Frankel has been active on TikTok since 2020 when she shared her first video alongside her daughter Bryn in their pajamas. Frankel has just under 1 million followers currently.

According to a September 18 video she posted that has about 30,000 views, compared to many videos with over 100,000 Frankel called out TikTok.

“The bigger issue is not these small s**** sites, the bigger issue is TikTok,” she said in the video. “The wild wild west of social media. This is something that has to be addressed.”

When the news of the lawsuit was made public Frankel addressed it on Twitter writing, “Consumers & creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend & protect themselves. That ends now. My demands for us are correct & just…”

Heavy reached out to Frankel and TikTok for comment but has not received a response yet. Ashley Nash-Hahn, a TikTok spokesperson, told The Washington Post, “We have strict policies to both protect people’s hard earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok. We regularly review and improve our policies and processes in order to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts and further strengthen our systems.”

Nash-Hahn added, “Users can report content in the app, and they may escalate concerns related to copyright or trademark infringement via our website,” she said. “Advertising content passes through multiple levels of verification before receiving approval, and we have measures in place to detect and remove fraudulent or violative ads.”

Frankel told The Washington Post in an interview, “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. 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. … People were saying, ‘I thought you sold out. You’re hawking these bad products.’ 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.” Frankel told The Post she hopes other influencers join the suit.

Bethenny Frankel Revealed She Thinks She Is Being ‘Shadowbanned’ by TikTok Months Before Suing Social Media Website

This is not the first time that Frankel has complained about social media.

In August she believed that she was being shadow banned on TikTok for posting reviews about the Kardashian family products.

“Since I seem to have been ‘shadowbanned’ on Tik Tok, since posting about celeb brands, & get only 10 percent of normal views on this reel, hmmmm (my smart followers pointed this out) it seemed like this should be posted here…. Coincidence maybe? Or is censorship real?” she wrote in a caption of an August 19 Instagram post.

At the time several fans and social media influencers stepped up to support Frankel for calling out the site.

“Yup! You are shaking folks ‘money tree’ and they don’t like it….it all about the bottom dollar and they feed the monster!” someone said. “But thanks for saying what we all think out loud!!!! I don’t follow any of them and that’s all that comes up on my Instagram feed!!!! It’s madness!!!!”

“Oh it’s real! Got completely shadow banned for months after being on Rogan! Instagram denies doing anything of the sort,” influencer Valentine Thomas wrote on the post.

“I noticed your views were down too. Is the message stay in your lane?” someone asked. “I love how you are comparing these insanely priced cosmetics to drug store products. Not everyone has a lot of money to spend on beauty products and the fakeness of it all. I appreciate what you are saying it’s attacking everyone’s self esteem and aging nobody can have a wrinkle anymore what that does to people is also super harmful. Thanks for speaking out Bethany!”

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