TikTok being investigated over potential physical & mental harm to young users

TikTok logo on dark backgroundUnplash: Eyestetix Studio

A group of state attorneys has launched an investigation into TikTok over the potential harm it could cause to the physical and mental wellbeing of its young userbase.

Short-form video app TikTok has been hugely popular for several years now, and new users are joining on a near-constant basis, with a huge portion of the platform’s userbase comprised of teenagers.

Countless viral trends have started on TikTok, and although plenty of them have been harmless, there are a number of them that have caused great a great deal of controversy, such as the Devious Lick challenge that saw students stealing increasingly bizarre items from schools.

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Bizarre TikTok trend has people stealing random objects from school, like ceiling tilesWikimedia Commons
The Devious Lick trend had people stealing random objects from school, like ceiling tiles.

A group of state attorneys from at least eight states in the US have now launched an investigation into the app to see whether it is contributing to physical and mental health harms for young people.

Attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, said: “As children and teens already grapple with issues of anxiety, social pressure and depression, we cannot allow social media to further harm their physical health and mental well-being.

“State attorneys general have an imperative to protect young people and seek more information about how companies like TikTok are influencing their daily lives.”

Hand holding a phone with the TikTok logo on itUnsplash: Olivier Bergeron
TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms to date.

TikTok responded in a statement. “We care deeply about building an experience that helps to protect and support the well-being of our community and appreciate that the state attorneys general are focusing on the safety of younger users,” they said.

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Back on February 8, TikTok revealed new community guidelines, explaining that they are, “strengthening our policies to promote safety, security, and well-being on TikTok.”

They revealed plans to crack down on dangerous trends and hateful ideologies, and said: “While we already remove content that promotes eating disorders, we’ll start to also remove the promotion of disordered eating.”