On March 2, 2022, eight states announced a bipartisan, nationwide investigation into whether TikTok operates in a way that causes or exacerbates harm to the physical and mental health of children, teens and young adults. The probe will further consider whether the company violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.
The attorneys general of California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont are leading the investigation and are joined by a broader coalition of attorneys general from across the country. The probe will examine the harms TikTok usage may cause to young people and what the company knew about those harms. The investigation will focus in part on the methods and techniques used by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including to increase the engagement with, and duration of time spent on, the platform.
The probe follows a similar investigation by the attorneys general into the harmful effects of Instagram on children. Both investigations reflect concerns by the attorneys general over the potential negative impacts of social media on children and young adults. In a press release regarding the investigation, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stated, “As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, social pressure, and depression, we cannot allow social media to further harm their physical health and mental wellbeing. State attorneys general have an imperative to protect young people and seek more information about how companies like TikTok are influencing their daily lives.”