The following is a press release issued by the California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s Office
California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a nationwide investigation into TikTok for promoting its social media platform to children and young adults while its use is associated with physical and mental health harms to youth. Attorneys generals nationwide are examining whether the company is violating state consumer protection laws and putting children at risk.
“Our children are growing up in the age of social media – and many feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We know this takes a devastating toll on children’s mental health and well-being. But we don’t know what social media companies knew about these harms and when. Our nationwide investigation will allow us to get much-needed answers and determine if TikTok is violating the law in promoting its platform to young Californians.”
The investigation will look into the harms using TikTok can cause to young users and what TikTok knew about those harms. The investigation focuses, among other things, on the techniques utilized by TikTok to boost young user engagement, including strategies or efforts to increase the duration of time spent on the platform and frequency of engagement with the platform.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to holding social media companies accountable, particularly when their actions may cause harm to California’s youngest residents. In November, Attorney General Bonta announced a nationwide investigation into Meta for providing and promoting its social media platform — Instagram — to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Attorney General Bonta also co-led a bipartisan coalition in expressing support for hearings in the U.S. Senate on “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms.” Earlier that year, Attorney General Bonta joined 43 attorneys general in urging Meta to abandon plans to launch a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13. Following heavy criticism and shocking new reports from Wall Street Journal and other publications, Meta announced in September that it would pause development of the new platform.
Leading the investigation is a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Vermont. They are joined by a broad group of attorneys general from across the country.