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TikTok faces multistate probe over its impact on kids' mental health

Tiktok On Fire Tv
(Image credit: Keegan Prosser / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A group of state attorneys general has launched a multistate investigation into TikTok over the platform’s potential mental health harms on children and young adults.
  • The investigation also seeks to determine if TikTok violated state consumer protection laws and “put the public at risk.”
  • A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont is leading the investigation.

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general is investigating TikTok for potential physical and mental health harms on children. The attorneys general will also examine whether the short-form video platform violated state consumer protection laws as part of the investigation.

As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, social pressure, and depression, we cannot allow social media to further harm their physical health and mental wellbeing. State attorneys general have an imperative to protect young people and seek more information about how companies like TikTok are influencing their daily lives.

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey

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.

A TikTok spokesperson

According to a press release from Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, the investigation will mainly focus 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.”

The probe against TikTok is led by attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. The same coalition is also investigating Facebook parent Meta over Instagram’s potential harms on younger users. In May last year, a group of 44 attorneys general urged the tech giant to give up its plans of launching Instagram Kids.

As noted by The New York Times, regulators have started taking the issue of online child safety very seriously. Besides Facebook parent Meta, a few other social media companies are also under scrutiny over potential harms to children and teens. In his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Biden said, “We must hold social media accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit.”

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan