Former ‘Real Housewives’ Star Bethenny Frankel Sues TikTok, Alleging App Profits From Scammers Illegally Stealing Her Likeness

Bethenny Frankel says she’s had enough of scammers on TikTok using her voice, image or content to sell counterfeit products.

The entrepreneur and star of “The Real Housewives of New York” filed a federal lawsuit against ByteDance’s TikTok, the hugely popular short-form video app, alleging that TikTok has ignored her requests to remove unauthorized content that misappropriates her likeness. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, demands unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction barring TikTok from misusing the “personas, voices, content and/or likenesses” of Frankel and other potential members of the class.

“Despite demands on TikTok to remove and police this corrupt conduct, TikTok has ignored such demands, and even taken countervailing positions,” Frankel’s lawsuit says. “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, who has nearly 1 million followers on TikTok, claims that in one instance she posted a video on the app warning her followers of the “unauthorized and illegal use of her persona to sell counterfeit goods” — whereupon TikTok, “ironically, removed Ms. Frankel’s content as ‘abusive.’”

TikTok did not directly comment on Frankel’s lawsuit.

“We have strict policies to both protect people’s hard-earned intellectual property and keep misleading content off of TikTok,” a TikTok rep said. “We regularly review and improve our policies and processes in order to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud attempts and further strengthen our systems.”

In an Instagram post Thursday, Frankel urged others who feel they have “experienced an illegal violation of your right on social media” to reach out to her team. “I have a voice. It’s my right and responsibility to use it and to encourage others to constructively do so as well,” she wrote. “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.”

Frankel’s lawsuit alleges that “numerous videos and content were created and shared on TikTok using Ms. Frankel’s name, portrait, picture, voice and content to peddle unauthorized and fake goods,” although it also notes that the videos have since been removed from TikTok’s platform. According to the complaint, Frankel began receiving comments from her followers “thinking that Ms. Frankel ‘sold out’” and was hawking “fake products.”

Frankel appeared on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” for eight seasons, last appearing on Season 11 in 2019. She’s also starred in many other shows, including the “Bethenny Ever After” spinoff and her own talk show, “Bethenny.” In 2021, she launched “Big Shot With Bethenny,” a reality competition series on HBO Max following her search for a second-in-command to her Skinnygirl lifestyle products company.

Her lawsuit against TikTok was filed Thursday in the U.S. District for the Southern District of New York, Case 1:22-cv-08503.

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