TikTok sued in Iowa as parents 'misled' about improper content

Iowa sues TikTok alleging parents misled about improper content

/ 07:16 AM January 18, 2024
Iowa sues TikTok alleging parents misled about inappropriate content
FILE PHOTO: TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Iowa’s attorney general on Wednesday sued TikTok, accusing the video-based social media platform of misleading parents about their children’s access to inappropriate content on the company’s app.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird in a lawsuit filed in a state court in Polk County accused TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance of lying about the prevalence on its platform of content including drugs, nudity, alcohol and profanity.

“TikTok has kept parents in the dark,” Bird, a Republican, said in a statement. “It’s time we shine a light on TikTok for exposing young children to graphic materials such as sexual content, self-harm, illegal drug use, and worse.”


Alleging consumer fraud, the state is seeking financial penalties and an order barring TikTok from engaging in deceptive and unfair conduct.


READ: One billion users, but bans mount up for TikTok

ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has previously said it has “industry-leading safeguards for young people,” including parental controls for teen accounts.

The case marked the latest lawsuit brought by a U.S. state against TikTok, which along with other social media companies are facing pressure from regulators globally to protect children from harmful content on their platforms.

Similar cases have been filed by other states including Arkansas and Utah. A judge in Indiana in November dismissed a lawsuit against TikTok by that state’s attorney general. Other states are continuing to investigate.

READ: TikTok hit by US lawsuits over child safety, security fears

Iowa’s lawsuit alleged that the company misrepresented itself on Apple’s App Store as qualifying for a “12+” age rating by claiming its app infrequently featured profanity, mature themes, sexual content or drug use.


Instead, harmful conduct is frequent on the app, the lawsuit alleges. By wrongly rating its app as “12+,” the lawsuit said TikTok has been able to work around parental control on Apple devices like the iPhone.

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