The Federal Trade Commission recently made a significant move by restricting access to an anonymous messaging app called NGL for users under the age of 18. This marks the first time the agency has taken such action against an online service for hosting minors.

The decision came after Kristin Bride, the mother of a 16-year-old who tragically took his own life in 2020 following cyberbullying on anonymous messaging apps, filed a complaint against NGL to the Federal Trade Commission in October.

According to the F.T.C., NGL violated child privacy and consumer protection laws, causing harm to children and teenagers. The maker of the app, NGL Labs, had marketed the app as a safe space for teens with strong moderation practices, but in reality, it exposed users to cyberbullying and other dangers.

As part of the settlement, NGL agreed to pay a $4.5 million settlement to compensate affected consumers. Additionally, the Los Angeles District Attorney imposed a $500,000 civil penalty on NGL for its actions.

This move by the F.T.C. reflects a growing concern among lawmakers and regulators about the safety of children online. The Surgeon General recently called for a health warning label on social media for teenagers and children, and there is ongoing debate around the Kids Online Safety Act, which aims to protect children from harmful content and enhance privacy settings for young users on social media platforms.

The F.T.C. is committed to safeguarding children online by scrutinizing apps and services that violate child privacy and consumer protection laws. In the case of NGL, the agency found deceptive practices, including false claims about using artificial intelligence tools to prevent bullying and harmful activities online.

Overall, this action taken by the F.T.C. serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting young users from potential dangers on the internet. It highlights the need for increased vigilance and regulation to ensure the well-being of children and teenagers in the digital age.