The state of Utah sued TikTok over child safety and the company’s ownership in Chinashe stated CNBC. Attorney General Sean Reyes in the complaint called the app an “addictive product” and accused it of deceiving users regarding the relationship with China-based parent company ByteDance. The state recently passed some of the strictest social media laws in the country— here, minors need parental permission to use social networks.
The lawsuit compares TikTok to a slot machine that is “dopamine manipulation.” This addictive nature is particularly harmful to the “not yet fully developed” brains of young users and can create an addiction to the app, the state claims.
The lawsuit also addresses TikTok’s ties to China. “In order to avoid scrutiny from its users (and regulators), TikTok has also misled consumers about the extent to which TikTok remains tied to and controlled by Chinese parent company ByteDance.”
TikTok has previously said it has spent more than $1.5 billion on data security and has denied allegations that it is spying for the Chinese government. The company also recently opened its Center for Transparency and Accountability precisely in an effort to fend off potential bans from regulators.
The federal government has yet to take any concrete action against social media, but individual states are becoming more active. Utah recently passed a law requiring that teens get parental permission before they can create an account on TikTok, Snap and other platforms. It also mandates parental control and age verification. However, the state did not go as far as Montana, which outright banned the use of TikTok. Tomorrow, a judge will hear TikTok’s arguments against the proposed bans – in a case that could expose the company to greater scrutiny and set a precedent across the United States.