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Arkansas’ TikTok lawsuit moving forward after ruling

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(The Center Square) – A Cleburne County judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit filed by Arkansas against social media company TikTok can proceed.

The state filed the suit against the company, which is owned by China-based ByteDance, last year saying the site falsely claims to protect minors from inappropriate content.

The company filed a motion to dismiss, and Judge Holly L. Meyer heard oral arguments on the case in February.

TikTok said the state did not have jurisdiction over them when asking the judge for dismissal and that Arkansas failed to prove its claims that the company violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Act, according to the ruling.

Meyer said the company reaped the financial rewards of doing business in Arkansas.

“…as a global company doing business in the United states, it is entirely reasonable for TikTok to expect that it could be haled into court in Arkansas, especially considering TikTok profits handsomely off Arkansas minors,” Meyer said in the ruling.

The claim that TikTok is not subject to the ADTPA because it is not a good or service was also rejected by Meyer.

The state also sufficiently showed that TikTok misled consumers about the app’s safety, particularly its addictiveness to minors, Meyer said. The attorney general’s office alleged that the app knows “minors are especially susceptible to addiction and the mental health harms associated with addiction to the app.”

“These facts, if proven would affront a sense of justice, decency and reasonableness,” Meyer said. “The State has thus plausibly alleged an unconscionable business or trade practice under the ADTPA.”

Attorney General Tim Griffin called the decision a “big win.”

“Each procedural win brings us one step closer to holding TikTok accountable for its deceptive practices, and it paves the way for others to do the same,” Griffin said.

State and federal lawmakers have scrutinized the social media app in recent years, with many states banning it from state-owned devices over concerns that China could use it to monitor U.S. residents.

Last month Congress passed a bill signed by President Joe Biden that requires ByteDance to sell TikTok or face banishment in the U.S.

ByteDance filed a lawsuit challenging the law last week, calling the law unconstitutional.

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