Bipartisan Coalition of AGs Probing Effects of TikTok Usage by Young Users
For Immediate Release: March 2, 2022
Office of The Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Acting Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director
Division of Law
– Michelle L. Miller, Director
TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that New Jersey is co-leading a multistate investigation into whether the social media platform TikTok is violating state consumer protection laws by inducing young people to use the platform in ways that are potentially damaging and putting them at risk of mental and physical harm.
“Many parents and child advocates are rightfully concerned about the impact of social media usage on young people’s safety and wellbeing,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “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.”
Among other things, the investigation announced today is centered on techniques employed by TikTok to increase both the frequency and duration of engagement by young users – children, teenagers and young adults – and on the potential harms that may result from such engagement.
The investigation will also explore what TikTok knows about such harms.
“Failing to protect the mental health of children is a serious allegation,” said Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, Sean P. Neafsey. “We will investigate and hold accountable any company that fails to curb the known harmful effects of a product.”
In addition to New Jersey, the TikTok investigation announced today is being co-led by a bi-partisan group of Attorneys General representing Nebraska, California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Vermont. The leadership group is joined by a broad group of participating Attorneys General from across the country.
In November 2021, New Jersey announced that the same group of states is leading an investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc. (f/k/a Facebook) to address whether the social media platform Instagram is violating state consumer protection laws and putting children, teenagers and young adults at risk.
As highlighted in a May 2021 letter from 44 Attorneys General urging Facebook to abandon its plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under 13, emerging research suggests a nexus between increased time spent online by young persons – particularly on social media platforms – and such ill effects as depression, anxiety, isolation, body image issues, cyber-bullying, eating disorders, and sleeplessness, among others.