Utah sues TikTok, claiming damage to youth mental health

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Utah is suing TikTok as of Tuesday for allegedly encouraging children into social media usage that is detrimental to their mental health.

The Beehive State is taking aim at the social media company with a focus on allegedly enticing children to use the app for prolonged periods of time, not being honest about its safety and lying about its independence from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, The Associated Press reported. It joins Arkansas and Indiana in comparable lawsuits against TikTok, the AP said.

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“We will not stand by while these companies fail to take adequate, meaningful action to protect our children. We will prevail in holding social media companies accountable by any means necessary,” Gov. Spencer Cox (R-Utah) said at a news conference on the lawsuit, per the AP.

Last December, Cox implemented a ban on TikTok in the government branches of the state over concerns related to the security of the app and connections to the Chinese state. 

“China’s access to data collected by TikTok presents a threat to our cybersecurity,” Cox said in a statement at the time. “As a result, we’ve deleted our TikTok account and ordered the same on all state-owned devices. We must protect Utahns and make sure that the people of Utah can trust the state’s security systems.”

Other states including Texas, South Dakota and Maryland have also restricted the use of the social media app within their state governments. 

In a statement emailed to The Hill, a TikTok spokesperson said it “has industry-leading safeguards for young people” like “an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts.”

“We will continue to work to keep our community safe by tackling industry-wide challenges,” the statement read.

The Associated Press contributed. 

Updated at 5:12 pm.

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