A U.S. federal court has sentenced a Portland, Oregon man to 15 years in prison for sexually exploiting two children he met on Musical.ly, which has since become TikTok.
33-year-old Juan Carlos Ramon was convicted of exploiting children whose ages were six and eight. After he serves his prison sentence, he will have to enter a supervised released program that will continue for the remainder of his life.
In June of 2017, according to court documents, Ramon began communicating with the two minors on the popular short-form video app while pretending to be a girl their age. He then encouraged the two to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves, which became increasingly more explicit.
Authorities became involved in the case after a relative of the two victims discovered the communications and contacted them.
On November 16, 2017, the FBI Portland’s Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) arrested Ramon for producing child pornography. While in custody, he admitted to contacting minor females and requesting pornographic images from them. He indicated that this communication continued for a number of years.
Much of Ramon’s working life had been spent providing education, non-profit programming and family services.
On May 22, 2019, he pleaded guilty on two counts of production of child pornography, in a case prosecuted by Natalie Wight, who is an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon.
Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined TikTok $5.7 million for violating terms of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Both the United States and the United Kingdom have since launched investigations of how TikTok protects underage users of the app.
India went one step further than this. For a number of weeks, they banned the app in part because of the bullying of young people that subsequently led to suicides. At the time, TikTok’s parent ByteDance said that the company was losing upwards of $500,000 per day because of the ban in what is one of their biggest markets.