Utah is suing TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, alleging that it intentionally harms children by keeping them hooked on the app for unhealthy amounts of time. The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges to TikTok’s business practices, particularly its impact on young users.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement that TikTok uses “highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features” to keep young users engaged, even though they know it is harmful to their mental health, physical development, and social life.
“TikTok is lying to these children (and their parents) about the safety of its app and exploiting them into checking and watching the app compulsively,” Reyes said.
The lawsuit alleges that TikTok’s design features mimic slot machines, with endless scrolling and a constant stream of new videos that are tailored to each user’s interests. This can lead to addiction, as users become hooked on the feeling of getting new likes and views.
TikTok has denied the allegations, saying that it has industry-leading safeguards for young people, including a 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts.
The lawsuit is seeking civil penalties and an injunction prohibiting TikTok from violating state law that protects consumers from deceptive business practices.
The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.