TikTok is under fire as a group of state attorney generals from Kentucky, Florida, California, and other states are investigating the workings of TikTok for the potential effect it could have on the mental and physical health of young people.
The Attorney generals are investigating whether the design, operation, and marketing of the video-sharing platform have a negative effect on young adults and children.
TikTok uses algorithms to ensure what content the user sees and has, in the long run, is extremely effective at keeping people hooked and engaged in the app. How TikTok really works remains a hard task to know.
With young users, TikTok has had problems in the past like paying $5.7 million in 2019 to the FTC over accusations that its parent company Musical.ly failed to get the right permission from parents of young users. With the settlement came the edict that TikTok would have to strictly abide by and limit the ways in which users under 13 years could use the app.
In recent times, researchers expressed concern that there were shockingly low numbers of studies into the way that health could be potentially impacted by TikTok, in spite of its huge user base. Ben Rathe, the spokesman for TikTok was reported as saying that the company “appreciates that the state attorneys general are focusing on the safety of young users”. He added that the company would provide information on how there are a lot of measures in place for protecting and respecting the privacy of teens.
The ripples in the pond will disturb other giants, namely Meta and Snapchat who had “taken cues” from TikTok to develop their own app features. Copying TikTok’s operational policies may snatch away their umbrella in the rain if the investigation leads to more legislation in the future.