'Manipulative Tactics': Utah Sues TikTok Over Child Addiction Concerns

Utah takes on TikTok, alleging manipulative tactics and harm to children's mental health. Legal battle unfolds. Is TikTok addictive? Get the latest on this crucial lawsuit

Oshi Saxena
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The state of Utah has taken legal action against TikTok, the popular short video format application owned by a Chinese company.


Utah 's lawsuit, filed on October 10th, accuses TikTok of harming and exploiting young children by deliberately encouraging them to spend excessive amounts of time on the platform. This action is part of a growing trend, as similar lawsuits were previously initiated by Indiana and Arkansas against the video-sharing giant.

Manipulative Tactics and Their Impact

Utah's lawsuit raises serious concerns about TikTok's practices, alleging that the platform employs highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features. These features, according to the lawsuit, often mimic the characteristics of slot machines, leading to addictive behaviour among young users.

In the official filing, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes commented on the matter, stating, "What these children (and their parents) do not know is that TikTok is lying to them about the safety of its app and exploiting them into checking and watching the app compulsively, no matter the terrible effects it has on their mental health, physical development, family, and social life."

The impact of TikTok's allegedly "manipulative tactics" has been profound, with young consumers falling victim to compulsive use, affecting their overall well-being. These effects have prompted Utah to take action in a bid to protect its residents, particularly young users.

Legal Action and Impending Investigation


Utah's legal action against TikTok is still ongoing, with the investigation not yet concluded. The state's Attorney General, Sean Reyes, has indicated that he plans to seek court orders to compel TikTok's compliance with investigative subpoenas in the coming week. This reveals the state's determination to uncover the truth and hold TikTok accountable.

The state of Utah is pursuing civil penalties and an injunction that would prevent TikTok from violating state consumer protection laws that guard against deceptive business practices. These measures underscore the state's commitment to safeguarding its residents, particularly the younger demographic, from potentially harmful digital practices.

Broader Implications and Legal Landscape

Utah's legal challenge is not an isolated incident. Arkansas and Indiana have also filed similar lawsuits against TikTok, highlighting the mounting concern over the impact of social media on young users. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to address the constitutionality of state attempts to regulate social media platforms. This impending decision could have far-reaching consequences for the tech industry.

The Utah lawsuit underscores the public health concerns linked to excessive social media use by children. Research cited in the complaint suggests that children who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of experiencing poor mental health, including anxiety and depression. This troubling correlation has added urgency to the push for stricter regulations.

TikTok's Response


In response to the lawsuit, TikTok defended its platform, asserting that it has industry-leading safeguards for young users. These safeguards include an automatic 60-minute time limit for users under 18 and parental controls for teen accounts. TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, headquartered in China, has emphasised its commitment to responsible usage of the platform.

It is essential to note that TikTok is already facing multiple lawsuits across the United States, further highlighting the depth of concern about its practices. Lawmakers and state authorities have voiced their apprehension about the impact of TikTok's algorithm on children, alleging that it promotes non-stop exposure to inappropriate content.

Utah's Efforts to Regulate Social Media

It's worth noting that Utah has taken proactive steps to limit children and teen use of social media apps such as TikTok. The state passed laws that are set to take effect next year. These laws include a digital curfew for people under 18, requiring parental consent for signing up for social media apps, and mandating age verification for all Utah users. However, some child advocates have expressed concerns that these measures could harm children's privacy and mental health, particularly LGBTQ+ children whose parents may not be accepting of their identity.

The lawsuit filed by Utah against  TikTok is part of a broader legal and societal conversation about the responsibilities of social media platforms in protecting children and teens. It underlines the increasing scrutiny and regulatory action taken against tech companies to ensure the well-being of younger users.

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