A nationwide investigation will explore the risks that the wildly popular shortform video app TikTok poses to children, California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced Wednesday.
Among what’s under scrutiny will be how the company has sought to increase the time and frequency with which young people use its app; the extent to which it is aware of any harm it may be causing those users; and whether it’s violating consumer protection laws in the process.
“Our children are growing up in the age of social media — and many feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens,” Bonta said in a statement. “We know this takes a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being. But we don’t know what social media companies knew about these harms and when.”
“Our nationwide investigation will allow us to get much-needed answers and determine if TikTok is violating the law in promoting its platform to young Californians,” he added.
TikTok offers a mix of video entertainment and social media that has made it a hit among many Americans, especially young ones, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, it became the most downloaded app in the world by some metrics.
Bonta’s office said that the investigation is being led by attorneys general from eight states, including California, who are joined by additional attorneys general from other states.