Kansas latest state to sue TikTok over harm to minors

Photo Credit: Megan Burns

Kansas has become the latest state to file a lawsuit against social media giant TikTok over its harm to minors. Here’s the latest.

Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a consumer protection lawsuit vs. TikTok, saying the social media giant failed to inform minors of its addictive qualities. It also alleges the app failed to inform adults about the effectiveness of its parental controls when it comes to blocking content that may damage mental health.

The petition seeks an order permanently enjoining TikTok and parent company ByteDance from engaging in deceptive acts against Kansas consumers. It also requests the court award civil penalties of $10,000 per violation, or $20,000 per instance in special circumstances while requiring TikTok to pay investigative and attorney costs.

“The app has promoted filth, profanity, sexual content, and alcohol and drugs to Kansas Kids,” Attorney General Kris Kobach says. “Even worse, it has used coercive algorithms that spike dopamine, keeping kids on the app as long as possible and facilitating downward mental health spirals.”

“In reality, this company created an app intentionally to hook Kansas children onto their salacious, dangerous, and damaging content at the price of those children’s mental health,” adds Fran Oleen, Deputy Attorney General in Kansas. Kansas is not the only state in the U.S. to take legal action even as TikTok faces broader opposition in Congress.

Utah, Arkansas, and Indiana have launched similar lawsuits vs. the social media giant, alleging that the company is baiting children into addictive habits. While Indiana’s effort was dismissed by a judge—other states are picking up the mantle.

“TikTok designed and employs algorithm features that spoon-feed kids endless, highly curated content from which our children struggle to disengage. TikTok designed these features to mimic a cruel slot machine that hooks kids’ attention and does not let them go,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a press statement.

Meanwhile, TikTok is facing a law that if passed in Congress would require parent company ByteDance to divest TikTok entirely or face a blanket ban across the United States.

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