The state of Utah has become the latest to file a lawsuit against the social media platform TikTok , accusing the app of using technology to keep children engaged with harmful material.
"The harms to children need to stop," Republican Gov. Spencer Cox said in a press conference announcing the suit Tuesday.
Filed in Salt Lake City state court, the lawsuit accuses TikTok of using algorithms to target children with content, which can often be violent and distressing. Utah also claimed that the platform fails to verify users' ages, and does not remove all child abuse sexual material or clips dealing with self-harm and eating disorders.
The state also alleges that TikTok has failed to address its negative mental health effects on adolescents, does not adequately take action child predators, and lies to the public about its commitment to safety.
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"TikTok directly profited from addicting children to the app and continued to capitalize on the addictive nature of the app despite knowing the harm that addiction would cause Utah’s children," the lawsuit states.
One of the features of the app is "infinite scroll," meaning the algorithm will continuously recommend videos to users on their dashboards. The lawsuit criticized the site's "recommendation engine" for its designed purpose to keep users looking at the app.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes likened TikTok to "a slot machine that hooks kids' attention and does not let them go." He said that the company "has lied to parents to create a false sense of security."
"TikTok has industry-leading safeguards for young people, including an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts," a spokesperson said . "We will continue to work to keep our community safe by tackling industry-wide challenges."
Utah is not the first state to challenge TikTok -- Montana passed a law earlier this year banning the app in the state. Set to go into effect January 1, the legislation bans app stores such as the Apple App Store and Google Play Store from making TikTok available to download within the state. Stores face fines of up to $10,000 every day they violate the law, but there are no punishments for users. TikTok has since filed a lawsuit against the state over the ban, calling it "unconstitutional."
The app was recently
fined $368 million in Europe
for failing to protect children.
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