Fighting to keep Louisiana children safe, Attorney General Jeff Landry is calling on Apple and Google to correct their application store age ratings of TikTok – helping parents protect their kids from being force-fed harmful content online.
“Our children are our State’s greatest resources, and I will continue doing everything I can to keep them safe,” said Attorney General Landry. “While our investigation into TikTok continues, the evidence uncovered so far shows that the platform is not safe for minors.”
In a pair of letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Attorney General Landry and 14 of his colleagues outlined the deceptive nature of the current ratings for the social media application. The attorneys general said that – without rating corrections – the states reserve the right to take legal action against the companies for the misrepresenting TikTok, up to and including litigation and civil penalties.
“TikTok may be the most dangerous social media platform for children and engages in a race to the bottom to ensure teens become addicted and loyal to the brand,” explained Attorney General Landry. “TikTok abuses our internet freedoms to stunt our children socially through 24/7 viral content filled with sex, drugs, alcohol, and illegal conduct.”
The current ratings of “T” for “Teen” in the Google Play App store and “12+” in Apple’s App Store facilitates the deception of consumers on a massive scale and falsely represents the objectionable content found and served to children on TikTok. While TikTok does have a “restricted mode” available, it is also aware that many its users are under 13 and have lied about their age in order to create a profile on its platform.
The TikTok app contains frequent and intense alcohol, tobacco, and drug use or references, sexual content, profanity, and mature/suggestive themes. TikTok users can search for hundreds of thousands of hashtags related to these topics, which each return thousands of videos in these categories—instructional videos about drug use, descriptions of drinking games, recipes for cannabis edibles, demonstrations of vaping tricks, pole dancing routines, and millions of videos set to songs with explicit lyrics, which TikTok makes available to users in its music library.
TikTok not only allows users to find this content, but it suggests it to users through its “autocomplete” search function and by offering this type of content to users on the “For You” page – including for accounts registered to 13-year-old users.
“Parents depend on the accuracy of age ratings,” wrote the attorneys general. “When parents are deceived into letting their kids download TikTok, there are real consequences. Exposure to drug, alcohol, and tobacco content on social media makes kids more likely to use or experiment with those illicit substances in real life. And exposure to sexual content on TikTok can lead to pornography addiction and even the sexual exploitation of kids by online predators.”