TikTok violates Iowa’s Consumer Fraud Act by lying to parents, attorney general says



(The Center Square) – Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird is suing technology company TikTok, saying the social media app violates the state’s consumer fraud law by lying to parents about its content.

TikTok has a 12+ rating on Apple but the app has sexual content, nudity and depicts alcohol and drug use, Bird said in a news release Wednesday. The app works around parental controls, she said in the lawsuit filed in Polk County District Court.

The state created a “test account” and included in its complaint examples of sexually graphic videos and ones where illegal drugs are used.

“Defendants’ display of profanity and crude humor on the TikTok app despite their representation that such content is “infrequent/mild” constitutes an unfair practice,” the lawsuit said. “Any consumer benefit to exposing young Iowans to profanity and crude humor content is far outweighed by the substantial, unavoidable injury to young Iowans, who cannot unsee harmful content once TikTok has exposed them to it.”

Bird said TikTok has kept parents in the dark.

“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,” she said. “TikTok has sneaked past parental blocks by misrepresenting the severity of its content.”

The state is asking the court to agree that the company is misrepresenting its content and fine TikTok $40,000 per violation.

Other states have filed lawsuits or passed bills banning the social media app. Montana lawmakers voted to ban TikTok, but a judge issued an injunction before the law could take effect on Jan. 1.

Utah is also suing TikTok for violating its Consumer Sales Practices Act.

“TikTok has industry leading safeguards in place for young people, including parental controls and time limits for those under 18,” a TikTok spokesperson said in response to an inquiry from The Center Square. “We are committed to tackling industry wide challenges and will continue to prioritize community safety.”

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