Utah Files Lawsuit Against TikTok Over Child Welfare Concerns

Utah has taken legal action against the globally popular app TikTok, accusing it of exploiting young users and contributing to unhealthy screen time habits. This move follows similar actions by other U.S. states and ongoing debates about the platform’s influence on children.

by Jack Diffley

Utah has instigated a lawsuit against TikTok, a short-video sharing platform owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The state claims that the app encourages excessive use among young users, potentially to their detriment.

This legal move by Utah is not isolated. Both Indiana and Arkansas have lodged similar concerns through legal channels. Notably, last month saw a federal judge thwart California’s attempt to implement a law focused on protecting young internet users.

Utah’s legal stance emphasizes an alarming claim. “Many children and their guardians remain unaware of the misleading portrayal of TikTok’s safety,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stated in legal documents. He further added that the app leads young users into an obsessive cycle, potentially harming their mental health, physical development, and social relationships.

According to the lawsuit, TikTok employs sophisticated algorithms and certain design elements comparable to slot machines, which ensure users remain engaged and return frequently.

In defense, TikTok, which boasts over 150 million American users, highlighted its safety measures, including an hour-long time cap for users below 18 and additional parental controls for teenage accounts.

Attorney General Reyes disclosed that Utah’s probe into the matter is ongoing. The state intends to request the court to mandate TikTok to adhere to investigative subpoenas in the coming week. Furthermore, Utah aims to obtain civil penalties and an injunction, ensuring TikTok complies with state laws that protect consumers from misleading business operations.

In related events, Indiana initiated its lawsuit against TikTok last December, which is yet to be concluded. Additionally, Arkansas has targeted both TikTok and Meta Platforms, Facebook’s parent company, alleging they foster addictive digital environments.

Several Republican legislators voiced their concerns last year, emphasizing that TikTok’s algorithms continually expose children to inappropriate content.

An imminent legal clash awaits TikTok in Montana. This week, a court is set to assess TikTok’s request to prevent the enforcement of Montana’s ban on the app, which was legislated due to espionage worries.

On the national stage, Congress is contemplating laws that could grant the Biden administration the authority to limit or entirely ban TikTok due to espionage fears. TikTok, however, has refuted these allegations and claims to have invested over $1.5 billion in robust data security infrastructure.

(Associated Medias | FAD) – All rights reserved.