Bethenny Frankel is suing TikTok for allegedly allowing scammers to use her “image and likeness” to promote counterfeit products on the platform.
According to docs obtained by Page Six, the “Real Housewives of New York City” alum claims that in September, some of her 994,600 followers notified her upon seeing what appeared to be Frankel promoting a counterfeit designer cardigan.
Frankel says, per the docs, 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.
The Skinnygirl founder says that after seeing the alleged scam, she posted her own video warning her followers of the “unauthorized and illegal use of her persona to sell counterfeit goods,” but claims TikTok deleted the video for being “abusive,” according to the filing.
In addition to seeking compensation for damages after her reputation “suffered significant injury and irreparable harm,” Frankel is also requesting changes to TikTok’s advertising policy which she claims doesn’t “police” these kinds of ads.
Influencers like Frankel have to “constantly monitor for and police any unauthorized use of their name, portrait, picture and voice to ensure that counterfeiters and other unauthorized parties do not peddle counterfeited and other unauthorized products using their personas, voices, content, or likenesses,” the lawsuit continued.
“This requires substantial time and investment from the content creators, effort which is not always successful, and it is not compensated by TikTok in any form whatsoever.”
Although Frankel claims the social media platform deleted one of her warning videos, she posted at least three separate ones discussing the scam and her intentions to file a lawsuit.
“This is something that has to be addressed, because it’s a breeding ground for scams,” she said in one TikTok video posted on Sept. 18. “What if this really really damaged my image? Because a lot of people are feeling like, ‘oh she sold out.’”
“These people are garbage, scumbag scoundrel scammers stealing, and their products are garbage, and don’t buy them,” she added in another Sept. 18 video.
The reality TV star doubled down on her suit and encouraged fellow influencers to speak up if they find themselves also being “violated without protection” in the “reckless marketplace.”
“I have a voice. It’s my right and responsibility to use it and to encourage others to constructively do so as well,” Frankel wrote on Instagram on Thursday.
“Consumers and creators are being exploited with no recourse or power to defend and protect themselves. That ends now.”
Frankel added that she “won’t stop” her crusade until “myself, my community and our children are protected.”
A spokesperson from TikTok told the Washington Post that they already 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,” they said.