Utah sues TikTok over alleged mental health harm to youth
The big picture: Utah's lawsuit is the latest effort by state officials to challenge the popular video-sharing platform owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance.
- Utah Gov. Spencer Cox this year signed an age-verification law to prohibit youth under 18 from using social media without their parents' consent.
- The state also banned TikTok last year on most government-owned devices, citing cybersecurity concerns.
Details: The new lawsuit accuses TikTok of leveraging "highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features" to entice young users to use the app — a violation of the state's consumer protection laws, per the complaint.
- As TikTok's popularity has increased, the complaint claims the mental health of Utah minors has worsened.
- State officials further accuse TikTok of deceiving users and parents when the company says the app is safe for children.
- The complaint also alleges the social media platform misled consumers about ByteDance's involvement with TikTok's operations. State Attorney General Sean Reyes on Tuesday said he believed Bytedance "effectively controls " TikTok.
The other side: "TikTok has industry-leading safeguards for young people, including an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement in response to Axios Salt Lake City's inquiry about the lawsuit.
- "We will continue to work to keep our community safe by tackling industry-wide challenges."
What they're saying: "This lawsuit sends a message of warning to other social media platforms. We are not stopping our efforts. Our investigation into TikTok and other companies continues," Reyes said at a news conference at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
- "Make no mistake that Utah will continue to lead out to protect children from the harms of social media," Cox said.
What we're watching: Whether state officials plan to sue other social media companies.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with TikTok's statement.