Matt Bush, FISM News
A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general (AG) from eight states announced an investigation into TikTok and the impact that the company is having on children, teenagers, and adults. The coalition is being led by the AGs of Florida, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont.
The investigation, according to CNBC, is to “determine if the popular short-form video platform’s design, operations or promotion to young users negatively affects their physical or mental health.” The AGs are also “seeking to find out if the short-form video app violated state consumer-protection laws.”
Many social media giants, and primarily TikTok, have been in the news a lot lately with primarily negative coverage. FISM previously reported on the TikTok school shootings “trend,” the Senate subcommittee investigation into the effects that the major social media outlets are having on children, and TikTok’s settlement over data collection and use.
This probe by the group of attorneys general is evidence of a larger bipartisan push to increase the protection for children online. President Biden addressed this issue during his State of the Union address by saying, “It’s time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertising to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children.” This statement drew loud, bipartisan applause from virtually everyone attending the speech.
One of the leaders of the AG coalition, Maura Healy of Massachusetts, wrote in her press release, “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.” She continued, “State attorneys general have an imperative to protect young people and seek more information about how companies like TikTok are influencing their daily lives.”
On August 6, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order banning TikTok from being downloaded from U.S. app stores 45 days after the order was given, if it was not sold by its Chinese parent company. He cited national security concerns, including data mining, as the reason to ban the app. The ban never came to fruition due to legal challenges.
On June 9, 2021, Biden signed another executive order regarding the TikTok app, this one revoking Trump’s ban of TikTok from app stores in America. According to the BBC, Biden said, “It should use an evidence-based approach to see if they pose a risk to US national security” before promptly revoking the ban.
New Jersey’s acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin, said in a statement, “We will investigate and hold accountable any company that fails to curb the known harmful effects of a product.” He continued, “If social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are violating our laws and exposing young users to psychological and physical harms, we will hold them accountable.”
Social media companies have been under fire recently as multiple studies have exposed how it negatively affects brain development, body image, and mental health. The studies also have linked the platforms to cyber-bullying and an increase in suicides.