Nebraska Sues TikTok for Allegedly Being Addictive, Posing Risks to Youth’s Mental Health

By Trisha Andrada

May 23, 2024 03:57 AM EDT

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Republican Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers sued TikTok on Wednesday, May 22, claiming that the short video-sharing app is contributing to a juvenile mental health crisis and is addicting and unsafe to children and teenagers.

TikTok Algorithm Allegedly Exposes Young Viewers to Inappropriate, Unsafe Content

In a report by Nebraska Exminer, the lawsuit asserts that TikTok's distribution structure and algorithm expose young viewers to dangerous content without enough warnings for consumer protection.

TikTok assures parents that the social media app is safe for youngsters, but Hilgers said their study proves otherwise.

Hilgers's detectives had made profiles under false identities of minors (13-17 years old), but they found indecent videos on those fake profiles' "For You" feeds.

TikTok claims that the For You feed is supposedly a curated collection of videos according to the users' interests and engagement. However, the investigation states that the app showed explicit video clips without searching for the related topics.

Hilgers pointed out that the algorithm of the app has shown children extremely inappropriate content, including videos that promote drug use, explicit sexual imagery, negative body image, eating disorders, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

A state inquiry into the effects of TikTok on children and teenagers was the basis for the complaint, said The Hill. Hilgers's office claims that the corporation tried to avoid the probe and refused to cooperate.

The suit details allegations that TikTok's community standards and advertisements portray the app as "family-friendly" and "safe" for children even though it poses serious safety risks.

READ NEXT: More Underage Teens Illegally Buy Knives on TikTok, Telegram as Criminals Influence Young People in Digital Way

TikTok Has Been the Subject of Several Investigations

The lawsuit filed by Nebraska is the latest in a long line of investigations into TikTok. Several congressional hearings have examined the app's influence on youth and potential dangers to national security.

A House committee asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into whether the social media giant broke any laws protecting children from its use of their data earlier this month.

In addition, President Biden signed a measure last month that banned the app from the nation unless TikTok's Chinese parent firm, ByteDance, sells its holdings in the United States to an American business by next year. The ban is based on data privacy concerns. TikTok took legal action by suing the US government.

The European Union is also investigating TikTok, this time regarding the app's effects on young users and the material they may be exposed to.

Defending itself from accusations of child endangerment, the business has often pointed out that parents can regulate their children's content on the site via its built-in controls.

READ MORE: Billionaire Frank McCourt Launches Bid to Acquire TikTok, Aiming to Forge an Alternative Internet

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