TikTok faces probe by U.S. states over the app’s effects on children

Eight states, including California and Massachusetts, announced on Wednesday that they are launching an investigation into TikTok, seeking to determine whether the social media platform causes physical or mental health harm to children.

The move is an extension of an investigation into Instagram by the same group of eight state attorneys generals that focuses on similar concerns. The concern that social media harms young people was the subject of a series of news stories in The WSJ in 2021.

“Today, attorneys general across the nation joined an investigation into TikTok for providing and promoting its social media platform to children and young adults while use is associated with physical and mental health harms,” the prosecutors said in a joint announcement.

“The investigation focuses, among other things, on the methods and techniques utilized by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including increasing the duration of time spent on the platform and frequency of engagement with the platform.”

“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,” TikTok said in a statement. 

According to a statement from the Tennessee attorney general’s office, the investigation is being led by a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont and are joined by others. 

Written by Maya Robertson

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