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Nebraska sues TikTok for allegedly targeting minors with “addictive design” and “fueling a youth mental health crisis”

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Nebraska sues TikTok for allegedly targeting minors with “addictive design” and “fueling a youth mental health crisis”

Nebraska is sueing social media giant TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, claiming the platform targets minors with “addictive design” and is “fueling a youth mental health crisis.”

“TikTok has shown no regard for the wreckage its exploitative algorithm is leaving behind,” Attorney General Mike Hilgers

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, filed in state court Wednesday, claims the platform engages in “deceptive and unfair trade practices” by claiming it is “family-friendly” and “safe for young users.” 

The lawsuit alleges TikTok does not adhere to its own Community Guidelines, which states the platform does not allow “content that may put young people at risk.” The platform has also spent millions on advertising stating it’s suitable for young people, the complaint alleges, and representatives of TikTok have testified repeatedly the company monitors for harmful content and removes content that risks harm to minors or otherwise violates the Community Guidelines.

But the lawsuit alleges the opposite is true and that teens and children are shown inappropriate content based on the platform’s algorithm and “addictive design.” 

As part of its investigation, Nebraska created TikTok accounts for fictitious minor users registered as 13, 15, and 17 years old, the lawsuit said. Within minutes, the lawsuit claims, the teen users were directed to inappropriate content by the TikTok algorithm, including videos described in graphic detail in the lawsuit as simulating ******* acts and encouraging eating disorders. 

Much of the content pushed to minors is encouraged by the “For You” feed, the lawsuit claims, which shows users the alleged inappropriate content without them searching for similar videos. Instead, the video just pops into minors’ feeds uninvited, the lawsuit claims. 

Hilgers said kids are shown “inappropriate content, ranging from videos that encourage suicidal ideation and fuel depression, drive body image issues, and encourage eating disorders to those that encourage ***** use and ******* content wildly inappropriate for young kids.”

These interactions have fueled “a youth mental health crisis in Nebraska,” the lawsuit said. 

TikTok refutes the allegations. 

“TikTok has industry-leading safeguards to support teens’ well-being, including age-restricted features, parental controls, an automatic 60-minute time limit for people under 18, and more. We will continue working to address these industry-wide concerns,” a company spokesperson told CBS News in a statement.

Nebraska’s lawsuit comes as TikTok battles the U.S. government over recent legislation requiring the platform to cut ties with its China-based owner within a year or be effectively banned from the ******* States. 

TikTok said in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that banning the popular social media platform would violate the First Amendment rights of its users. Eight TikToker users — with millions of followers between them — filed a similar suit against the federal government last week. 

More than 30 states and the federal government have banned the app on state- or government-issued devices. Montana became the first state to ban the app last May, a few months later a federal judge overturned the ruling, in part because the ban “infringes on the Constitutional rights of users and businesses.”

— Melissa Quinn and C. Mandler contributed reporting.

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Nebraska, TikTok, ByteDance
#Nebraska #sues #TikTok #allegedly #targeting #minors #addictive #design #fueling #youth #mental #health #crisis

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