March 4, 2022
A bipartisan coalition of US attorneys general on Wednesday launched a probe into video-sharing app TikTok’s impact on children, marking the latest investigation into the effect of social media companies on kids’ safety.
Attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont are working together to establish if TikTok has violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.The probe will seek to explore the potential harm young people suffer from using the app, including what TikTok knows about the effects of its service on children.
The attorneys general are seeking information on the methods employed by TikTok to increase user engagement among young individuals, such as boosting their time spent on the app, Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey revealed on Wednesday.
The same bipartisan coalition of attorneys general announced a similar investigation in November, into Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, exploring how it has impacted children.
A spokesperson for TikTok defended the company’s safety policies that protect younger users, in a statement released in response to the announcement of the investigation.
“We care deeply about building an experience that helps to protect and support the well-being of our community, and appreciate that the state attorneys general are focusing on the safety of younger users. We look forward to providing information on the many safety and privacy protections we have for teens,” the representative said.
The probe by the group of attorneys general comes after US President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address on Tuesday that tech companies should be held accountable for children’s online safety.
“We must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” Biden stated, calling on Congress to “strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children [and to] demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.”