DES MOINES, IOWA (March 8, 2023) — Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird joined 46 states in an amicus brief Monday, requesting that TikTok Inc fully comply with a multistate investigation into whether the China-owned company violated consumer-protection laws.
The bipartisan coalition of states is seeking internal TikTok communications to determine if the company has been engaging in unlawful conduct that impacts youth mental health. Research studies have shown that social-media platforms, including TikTok, contribute to youth mental-health problems and even suicidal thoughts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that almost one-third of teenage girls seriously considered suicide in 2021, a nearly 60% increase from a decade prior.
Attorneys General have a duty to protect children from dangerous and illegal business practices run by foreign powers. Despite requests for TikTok’s internal communications, the Chinese company repeatedly and knowingly failed to preserve relevant information by allowing employees to continue sending auto-deleting chats through the chat-app Lark. The little they did provide was in an almost impossible-to-read format. Due to social media’s significant role in the ongoing youth mental-health crisis, it is critical that TikTok provide all relevant internal communications so that the investigation can continue and develop an understanding of whether the company violated any laws.
“We need to hold social media companies such as TikTok accountable and address our growing youth mental-health crisis,” AG Bird said. “Millions of minors across America use these social-media platforms daily. TikTok has grown China’s global presence and given them direct influence over our children. We must evaluate TikTok’s business practices to determine whether it has broken laws and engaged in conduct that hurts youth mental health.”
Read the full request here.