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Coalition of AGs investigating TikTok's impact on children

by · TheHill

A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general are investigating TikTok’s impact on the well-being of children, the group announced Wednesday. 

The attorneys general will investigate if the popular video sharing app violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk. 

This follows an investigation launched by the same group of attorneys general in November into Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, over the platforms' impact on kids’ safety. 

The investigation into TikTok will look at the harm that use of the app may cause young people, and what TikTok knew about those harmful effects. It will look at methods used by the app to boost young user engagement, including by increasing the duration of time present on the platform, according to an announcement released by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D). 

Healey and attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont are leading the investigation. They are joined by a “broad group” of attorneys general from across the country, according to the announcement. 

A TikTok spokesperson defended the safety policies the company has in place to protect teenage users.

“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The investigation follows growing bipartisan support for more regulation of tech companies to protect kids’ safety.

Amid momentum in Congress for such regulation, President Biden pushed for tech companies to be held accountable over kids’ safety online during his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

“We must hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children for profit,” Biden said. 

“It’s time to strengthen privacy protections; ban targeted advertising to children; demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children,” he added.